Sitting in a chair working for most of the day is never healthy. If you’re a freelancer, it means you’re pretty much glued to your chair since there is no getting up and going over to a colleague’s desk to talk about a project, walk to a meeting, elevator or across the street for lunch.
Ignoring the fact that gluing your behind to your work place most often than not, piles on the pounds but also leads to something far more unhealthy – inactivity.
If you have recurring back aches, stiff neck and creaking joints then your body needs to start moving.
Here are a few simple stretching exercises which won’t reduce your weight, but will keep your body active and blood circulating!
Important note: All these stretching exercises should be done regularly and moderately in sets of 5.
This is the simplest so we’ll start with the eyes. Every 20 mins, close your eyes for a few seconds, open them and then roll them around slowly. Without moving your neck, look to your right, up, left and down. Do so a few times before repeating the same exercise from your left.
You’ve been sitting at your desk working all day. You can feel the stiffness in your neck from keeping it in one position for so long. To work the stiffness out:
a. Slowly bend your head toward your chest till you feel the back of your neck stretching. Hold for a few seconds and then straighten your head back up.
b. Now gently move your neck back to look up at the ceiling till you feel the front of your neck stretching. Hold position for a few seconds before straightening your neck once again
c. Turn your head to your left and look over your shoulder till you feel the right side of your neck stretching. Hold for a few seconds, get your head back in original position and do the same for your right side.
d. Rotate your neck from left to right and vice versa to loosen up your neck muscles.
Shoulders are simple. All you have to do is roll them. Start will small rolls and then expand them gradually. Go clockwise and then anti clockwise.
Ever seen how newborns stretch themselves while yawning after waking up from a nap? They throw up their arms stretch them all the way up. Do the same while sitting in your chair and feel your shoulders and arms lose some of their soreness. Yawning is optional.
If you’re like me, you probably have a cushion placed in your chair for added back support. Since we’re all hunched over our computers all day, our back is usually the first to suffer.
To give some relief to your aching back:
a. place your feet flat on the ground.
b. bring your neck, upper and lower back down till your chest is touching your thighs.
c. move your hands down till they’re touching the ground.
d. Hold position for 10 seconds and slowly move back to your sitting position.
Another simple way to stretch is to:
a. stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your arms at your sides
b. Bend down slowly to your right side with your right hand sliding down your thigh.
c. Reach your left arm over your head and hold till you feel your left side stretching.
d. Do the same for the other side
For lower back:
a. Place your feet flat on the floor and twist your torso to your right keeping your back straight.
b. Use your hands to hold on to the right side of the chair to help you stretch further. It will seem like you’re looking over your shoulder or behind you without moving your hips or legs.
c. Do the same for your left side and feel the tension lessen from your lower back.
Hands and arms
Because we’re at our computer all day, our hands, wrists and arms are always poised in the same position. Close your hand in a fist and rotate your wrist ten times. First clockwise and then anti clockwise.
To stretch your fingers:
a. Hold your left hand open and extend your fingers back one by one with your right hand.
b. Then hold all your fingers together and extend them back together at the same time.
To stretch your arms, simply recall your physical training class from school. Remember how we had to holds our arms out (Titanic pose), then in front of us and then up in the air? That’s how you’re going to stretch your arms. Stretch your arms as far as you can while keeping your feet planted firmly on the floor.
You can’t stretch your legs too much while sitting down. For this you will invariably have to get up. If you’re sitting, lift both legs in the air and stretch them forward with your ankles pointing forward too. Keep your leg stretched and move your ankle back till you feel the back of your calve stretching.
To stretch your legs while standing up:
a. Stand behind your chair and place your left hand on the back rest of your chair for support
b. Lift your right leg behind you towards your hip
c. Hold your leg with your right hand to stretch it. Hold for 10 seconds and place your leg back on the floor
d. Do the same for the left leg.
Link your fingers together and stretch your hands up towards the ceiling. Hold the position while you stretch up as much as possible. Then open your arms and slowly bring them back down before doing the torso stretch again.
Loosened those tense muscles yet?
These exercises will help loosen tense muscle and release stress. The golden rule about stretching is that it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you’re doing it wrong and must stop immediately.
Make stretching while working a regular part of your work day and you will feel great at the end of the day.