Sitting for a long time without moving at a desk or computer can lead to posture problems as well lower energy and alertness. Backs can suffer, slouching forward can contribute to shoulder and neck pain as can multi-tasking with the phone squeezed between your ear and shoulder. Repetitive strain injuries are common and our poor eyes can get strained too, possibly causing headaches. So how can we help ourselves? Even the small things like stretching at your desk, seated or standing can really make a difference, any interruption in sedentary time is a good move. Breathe slowly, preferably stretching as you breathe out. Don’t force or bounce and if a particular stretch feels uncomfortable please stop. It’s a great time to give your eyes a break from the screen too.
Shrug your shoulders: Breath in deeply and lift your shoulders up to your ears. Hold the shrug, then breathe out and drop your shoulders. Repeat three times.
Give yourself a bear hug: Place your hands on your opposite shoulders (or your shoulder blades if you can reach that far), hug yourself tight and breathe in and out for 15 seconds.
Stretch your neck muscles:
Tilt your chin as far forward as it can go, dropping your head. Hold for a few seconds, then gently lift your chin and slowly tilt your head back.
Drop your left ear to your left shoulder (no cheating by bringing your shoulder up!) and hold for 5 - 10 seconds. Repeat each side three times
Rotate your head until you are looking to your left with both eyes while your shoulders remain facing forward. Repeat each side three times
Do leg extensions: Hold on to the seat of your chair for balance. Extend both of your legs in front of you so they are parallel to the floor (if that feels a little unsteady try one leg at a time). Flex and point your toes five times. Lower your legs and repeat.
Wrists: give your wrists and arms a good shake and place your hands in prayer position, then upside down and then inside out. Shake again.
Stand up and stretch your entire body lengthwise: pushing your feet into the ground and reaching your arms up. Your spine will love you as it relieves your lower back of downward pressure.
Sitting well helps too, as a brief guideline have feet flat on the floor with your knees and hips level. Get on top of your sitting bones, the two knobbly bones on the bottom of the pelvis, too far forward puts strain on the lower back, too far back may lead you to slouch. Have support if needed to preserve the natural curve of your lumbar spine. Your neck is part of your spine, so if it’s comfortable bring it back in line and keep between 50 to 70cm between your eyes and monitor. Finally remember to take your wallet or other objects out of your back pocket as sitting on an uneven surface can cause pelvic, lower back or sciatic pain.