By. Jen Osborn – Certified Wellness Coach and Group Fitness Instructor
Stretch breaks at work are extremely important, even more so now that we are working from home. You may not have the structure you did at work, or the same routine, or find that you are working a lot more than you did at work and taking fewer breaks. Taking five minutes for you, several times during the day, creating space, being mindful of your body and brain, and getting movement is essential. I know for me that I need to put a reminder on my calendar and my phone to stretch and move due to having a desk job all day, where I sit all day. The impacts of sitting all day are detrimental to your health. It causes tight muscles, specifically your glutes, legs, back – upper and lower – shoulders, pectorals (chest), and neck. Our posture worsens; we tend to hunch forward, and our shoulders inch up towards our ears. Making sure you have your workstation set up ergonomically correct will help. Sitting at our desk all day causes obesity and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ways that have helped me stay active at my desk job, especially now that I work from home, focus on my water intake and make sure I get up to refill my water bottle at least four times a day. I take 5-10 minutes every hour to pet my kittens, take a lap around our Drive, and breathe in the fresh air, march in place – any kind of movement is great! I am fortunate enough to have a standing station, so I’ll choose to stand for part of my day and tap my feet side to side or march in place. When you get a phone call, most likely on your cell phone, walk around while you take the call. Incorporate stretch breaks! Here are some chair and standing stretches you can do in 10 minutes or less:
Chair stretches (make sure your feet are firmly on the ground, legs are 90 degrees):
Neck rolls – nose to shoulder – do not roll your head in a full circle.
Ear to shoulder (not shoulder to the ear; don’t shrug your shoulders) – nice neck stretch – for more, gently pull your head.
Yes (up and down) motion slowly and controlled.
No (right to left) motion slowly and controlled.
Forearm – extend your arm in front of you, palm facing down - using your other hand, gently pull your fingers back – you should feel a stretch in your wrist and forearm. Using the same extended arm, gently bend your hand downward using your other hand to assist. Switch arms.
Wrist rotations – Extend both arms and rotate your wrists one way and the other
Fingertip touches – Extend both arms. Pointer, middle, ring and pinky finger to thumb and reverse, pinky, ring, middle, pointer
Hip openers – Cross ankle over the opposite knee. For more of a stretch, gently push on the crossed legs knee region. Switch
Calf flexion – Raise your foot onto your toes and back down – repeat.
Torso twists – choose a side, twist, bring your arm behind your chair back and look over that shoulder. Switch
Shoulder rolls – forward and back
Crossbody shoulder stretches – bring an arm across your chest and gently press above your elbow. Switch
Chest opener – Sit on the edge of your seat. Interlock hands behind your back and pull down
Quad stretch – hold onto your desk or a wall and bring your heel to your glute. Torso upright. Legs together
Hamstring – Frankensteins / toe touches – extend leg and arm – touch your toes
Calf – Put a foot forward and point your toes to the sky. Bend forward for more of a stretch. You also feel this in your hamstrings.
Hip flexors – runner’s lunge – choose a leg to put forward, 90-degree angle – knee does not go over that front toe. You feel the stretch in your back leg hip region. For more of a stretch, raise the same arm of the leg that is back and lean. Switch
Side body stretch – Left leg over right, lean left. Right leg over the .left, lean right. To incorporate a back, neck, hamstring stretch, with crossed leg stretch, bend at your waist and go forward; hang like a rag doll.
Choose to love, honor, and respect your body.
Certified Wellness Coach and Group Fitness Instructor through NETA – National Exercise Trainer’s Association