It’s common knowledge that exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, but how about a stretch routine? Stretching, especially in the middle of the day after being seated and slouched over a computer for the entire morning, can help reduce muscle tension, improve posture, increase circulation of blood to various parts of the body, and increase energy levels too.
The mid-afternoon energy dip that leaves you feeling sleepy and lethargic is all too common. If you experience a lull in the afternoons on a regular basis, you may find that stretching gives you a boost of energy. In addition to causing extreme fatigue, sitting all day can cause major problems for your hips and back. In a seated position, your hip flexor muscles (the ones at the front of the hips) begin to shorten. This causes a pull at your hip crest where these muscles attach. Over time, this movement sets your pelvis into an anterior tilt position (picture your lower back arching).
As a result, this movement tends to jam up your lower back and cause pain, and sitting in front of a computer for the majority of the day also rolls your shoulders into a forward-flexed position. Think: rounding in your upper back, closing off the muscles of your chest, and weakening of your core. That said, it’s important to open your body up by pulling your shoulders back to fix your postural muscles.
Here are six stretches to try incorporating into your daily #WFH routine. They’ll get your blood flowing, realign your posture, reenergizing you in your sleepiest hours.
1. Seated Rotational Hold
Sitting upright in your chair, start by rotating to your left. Grab your left thigh with your right hand and place your left hand on the back side of your chair. Place tension on both hands in order to get deeper into the rotation. Maintain a long spine, reaching the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds, maintaining tension, before switching sides.
2. Overhead Oblique Stretch
This stretch can be done seated or standing. Start by reaching both hands overhead and grab your right wrist with your left hand. Let your arms and your body fall to the left as you feel a stretch through the right side of your body. Keep your chest up and allow your gaze to look under your right arm and towards the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds and then change sides.
3. ‘W’ Chest Stretch
This stretch can also be done seated or standing. Start with a long spine and roll your shoulders back. Bring your arms to your sides and bend your elbows to 90 degrees in a ‘W’ position. Pull your arms back as far as possible, opening up your chest and the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
4. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
Start standing next to your desk or a chair with your right side closest to whatever object you choose. Hold the desk or chair with your right hand and step your right leg forward into a high lunge. Keep your back leg straight as you bend your right knee. Hold this lunge position and reach your left arm up overhead, allowing yourself to lean to the right. You should feel this stretch in your left hip flexor (front of the hip). Hold this position for 30 seconds before changing sides.
5. Standing Quad Stretch
Standing with your right side close to your desk, and holding onto the desk with your right hand, lift your left leg off of the ground and grab your left foot with your left hand. Stand in a tall position and keep your thighs in line by pressing your hips forward. You should feel this stretch in your left quadriceps muscles (front of the left leg). Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
6. Forward Fold
In an open space, allow yourself to bend your knees at a slight angle and fold forward over your thighs. Let your arms and head fall heavy toward the ground. Really try to relax your neck by shaking your head yes and no. Make sure your knees stay slightly bent throughout holding this stretch. Stay here for 30 seconds before returning to a standing position. When you do stand back up, slowly stack one vertebrae at a time and pull your head up last.