One of the major issues we now all face is developing a bad posture through excessive sitting. Most people spend the vast majority of the day sitting down. As a result the body adapts your posture to be good at sitting. This means we experience less pain sitting than we should for the time spent doing it. However, the result is we are not ideally aligned for movement when we eventually do get up. It is not that difficult to undo the effects of sitting, you just need to put in place a regular stretch routine.
When it comes to stretching, most people do not find the time to off set the effects of sitting. This is in part, because you may find it boring or uncomfortable to do but it is also that we are short of any free time. This means stretching ends up competing with other exercise demands or a million other things from life. The best way around this is to combine stretching with other tasks to save on time. I will often meet my friends to catch up while having a stretch session. I will assume your friends are not dancers and would never contemplate meeting for a stretch, so the easiest thing you can do is combine flexibility with sitting while at work.
I posted a video this week on TIk Tok and Instagram of a stretch routine you can do in your office. Half of the stretches you can do while still actually working or typing on your keyboard, the others are still from your seat but you will need to pause your work for a minute or do while reading or listening to a conference call. If you integrate this into your daily routine you will find you are able to increase flexibility in no time and feel years younger. The office stretch routine includes the following stretches (Photos and video are down the page) –
Hamstring Stretch – While typing you can simply put your one leg out in front of you, with a pivot from your waist (called a waiters bow) you will feel a nice stretch in your hamstring muscle. The more you bend your knee, the higher up you will feel the stretch in your hamstring. You can also add to this exercise by rotating your leg in or outwards to get different parts of the hamstring muscle.
Nerve Hamstring Stretch – If you do the exact same stretch as above but keep your leg 100% straight your will feel the nerve stretch behind you knee. This is commonly mistaken as a hamstring stretch feeling but it is actually your nerve. The reason this is important is that your nerve is lengthened through gentle movements into and out of the stretch (while with muscles you can just do longer holds).
Thigh Stretch – Another great stretch which can be done while still typing is the thighs and hip flexors. Perch on the edge of your seat and bring your one leg behind you into a lunge type position. You can increase the stretch feeling by rotating your pelvis upwards.
Glute Stretch – It is common we sit more on one side of the buttocks than the other when sitting which creates a tightness in the glutes that should be resolved. This can be done by crossing one leg over the other then pulling the knee to your shoulder while keeping an arch in your back. With your spare hand you can easily respond to text messages for work.
Calf Stretch – Another exercise you can do while messaging on your phone. For this one you will need to get to the edge of your chair and then push your knee over your toes while keeping your heel down. Apply pressure through your elbow and you will feel a nice stretch in your Achilles heel and lower calf. This will help your squat depth greatly and free up the ankle joint.
Chest Stretch – With a jumper or any similar object (exercise band, broom etc) hold it behind your head to feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. This can easily be paired with reading something on your computer screen or listening to conference call.
Stomach Stretch – One of the areas that is most affected from sitting all day is the flexibility of your stomach area, rib cage and diaphragm. If you are able to get this stretch then you can really undo some of the worst damage from sitting all day. However, it is not the easiest one to feel correctly. You are trying to recreate the Sphinx pose from yoga, which is similar to the prone cobra but much more effective for the stomach. To do this you need to move your chair away from the desk a little and put your hands or elbows on the desk. First take a big breath in and then push your upper spine backwards while arching your lower back to create a stretch through the stomach area. This is the same as the Sphinx pose on the floor.
If you cannot feel this then you could modify the thigh stretch above by putting your hand in the area with a slight lean of the body to feel the stomach too. This will prevent you from working while doing it though.
What Does This Means For You?
If you are an office worker then spend some time on these exercises and implement them into your day somehow. It will be a real game changer. Let me know how you find them or if are struggling with any of the particular stretches.
Photo – The office stretch exercises discussed above, see the photos or watch the video here>>