3 Easy Deskside Stretches to Keep Muscle Pain at Bay
If you're not taking regular breaks to move around during your workday, your muscles may rebel after being scrunched in your desk chair hour after hour.
The rebellion might be felt in your neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs when you do finally stand up. Stop the insurrection with these three simple stretching exercises you can do without even leaving your workstation or office.
Start with the lateral lean. Stand up straight and clasp your hands behind your head. Turn your head toward your left elbow and then lean your torso in the same plane to the right -- don't bend forward or backward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat the stretch to the opposite side.
Next move to the standing hip flexor. Despite its name, it helps the legs as well. Lightly place your left hand on your desk for balance and bend your right knee, bringing your right foot behind you toward your right glute. Grip the right ankle with your right hand to gently press the heel toward your butt. Contract both sides of your glutes and keep your knees close together and your spine straight. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the left leg.
Finish with the open and closed upper body stretch. It helps prevent both lower back and shoulder pain. From a standing position, hinge forward from the waist, letting your arms hang toward the floor. Take a few deep breaths and then slowly stand up straight as you move your arms out to the sides in line with your shoulders. Rotate your thumbs backwards with your palms facing the ceiling. Think of bringing your thumbs together behind you as you open your upper chest toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat up to four times in total.
Take three minutes every two or three hours -- more often if you can -- to do these simple moves. Your body will thank you.
The National Health Service of the United Kingdom has good desk posture tips for when you sit back down.
SOURCES: Craig Greben M.D., chief, interventional radiology, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Maja Zaric, M.D., interventional cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Jan. 2, 2020, New England Journal of Medicine