Many of us have desk jobs that have us sitting down for hours at a time, making us feel stiff and tired after a day’s work. And if you’re working from home, that means you’re eating, working, and living in the same space, and end up moving much less than if you went to the office.
Sitting down and crouching over the laptop all day doesn’t just make us feel lethargic, but it has serious effects on our bodies too.
If you work at a desk job, you might have suffered from (or are still suffering from) neck or back pain that can lead to, be caused by, or be aggravated by tight shoulders. Plus, stiff shoulders will lead to a hunched or slouchy posture, which not only makes you look shorter, weaker and less confident, but also results in knock-on effects such as neck/back pain, misaligned spine, poor digestion and shortness of breath.
Here, a yoga teacher shares five of her favourite shoulder-opening stretches that you can do while sitting down (yes, within the constraints of your desk space!). The relaxation and tension release will let you walk taller, look better (hello, halterneck tops) and stay pain-free.
Seated shoulder stretch
This is your sign to stretch♬ Drop It Like It's Hot - Snoop Dogg
What it does: As our hands are usually down and in front of us while we’re typing at our desks, this overhead stretch helps to release tension in the shoulders.
How to do it: Interlock your fingers with your palms facing up. Keep your elbows straight and raise your hands overhead. Imagine pushing something towards the ceiling with your palms to lift your shoulders and arms up. Bring your shoulders towards your ears. To bring more stretch into the upper back, you can push your chest forward while pulling your hands back. Remember to breathe. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice.
Seated shoulder squeeze
For the front delts♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show
What it does: If you’re guilty of rounding your shoulders and hunching your back while sitting, this stretch will open your chest and shoulders while stretching your arms and upper back.
How to do it: Face the side of your chair so that the backrest does not obstruct you. Clasp your hands together behind your back. Try to keep your wrists together and keep your elbows as straight as you can. Sit up tall and roll your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Grip your hands firmly and pull your hands up towards the ceiling, as far away from your body as possible. Keep your chest and chin up. Breathe deeply and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat twice.
Seated cross-body stretch
Get the most out of your stretch!♬ Goodbye (feat. Lyse) [Slow Version] - Feder
What it does: This stretches the sides of your shoulders and arms to help you feel more relaxed and mobile.
How to do it: Sit up straight and reach one hand across your chest, with your palm facing the back of the room. Use your other hand to pull your arm closer to your chest. Keep both shoulders facing forward and try not to turn your chest. Hold for one minute and repeat on the other side.
Seated shoulder opener
One of my fav stretches♬ Originalton - ♫
What it does: If you don’t stretch your shoulders often, this stretch will feel great as it stretches the inner and under part of your shoulder.
How to do it: Sit arm-length away from a wall, your desk, or the back of your chair. Place one palm directly onto the surface behind you, with your fingers facing the same direction (left hand means fingers facing the left, right hand means fingers facing the right). Keep your palm and shoulder in a line. Turn your chest and body to the front to stretch your shoulder.
The more you pull your chest forward and away from your palm, the deeper the stretch. If you have hyperextended elbows, bend your elbow slightly to take the pressure off your elbows. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Modified puppy pose
Try this if you sit at your desk a lot!♬ All The Way Up - Fat Joe & Remy Ma
What it does: The puppy pose is usually done on the floor, but you can do this modified puppy pose at your desk. It stretches your arms, shoulders, and back.
How to do it: Sit arm-length away from your desk. Place your palms shoulder-width apart on your desk. Scoot back slightly to make room to push your shoulders and chest towards the floor. Keep your elbows straight. Keep pressing your chest down. To deepen the stretch, you can look forward to lengthen your upper back and neck. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice.
Most of us are aware that we should take screen breaks every 20 minutes to rest our eyes. Don’t forget to take breaks from sitting down too, by walking around or stretching your body every hour.
This article was first published in Her World Online.