Stretching at your desk
It is California law that you receive a meal break of 30 minutes if you work for five hours. You are also obligated to take a 10-minute work break if you are working for a four-hour period. You should take a small microbreak (1-2 minutes) every hour you are seated doing work. Here is a stretching routine you can do at your desk in less than 5 minutes.
During your 10-minute work break take some time to get up and walk around. More and more research is being done on the health hazards of long term sitting. Walk around and hydrate for five minutes, then do these stretches to stay limber.
- Seated extension: While sitting, interlock your fingers and stretch your hands, palms up, above your head. Try to reach to the ceiling with your arms and lean back slightly. Bring your head to your back and hold when you feel slight discomfort.
- Seated flexion: While seated bring your knees about shoulder-width apart. Lean forward and have your hands touching the floor. Bring your chin to your chest and relax your shoulders, head and arms.
- Bruegger’s stretch: While sitting bring your chest up and tuck your chin. Be sure you are looking forward still. Bring your shoulder blades together with arms outstretched and as far behind you as you can. Be sure your palms are facing up. You should feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles, the back of your neck and between your shoulder blades.
- Seated twists: While sitting up straight in a chair, twist to your left and look over your left shoulder. Use your right hand on your left knee to bring your stretch to tension. Repeat for the other side.
- Seated lateral bends: While sitting up straight in your chair, raise your right arm over your head and begin to lean to the left. Be sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed. You should feel the stretch along the right side of your back, neck, ribs, and right shoulder. Repeat for the other side.
- Seated piriformis stretch: While sitting up straight in your chair bring your left ankle and put it on top of your right knee. Begin to lean forward while keeping your head and back as straight as possible. You can put your hands on your left knee, and use this to pull until you feel a stretch in the left buttock and thigh. Repeat for the other side.
Remember to hold stretches at tension for 30 seconds. This is the time needed for the muscle and tissue to relax and lengthen. Do not stretch into a painful range, this can cause injury. Hold the stretches where you start to feel the muscle tension (mild discomfort).