As many of you will know my mantra is small changes lead to BIG differences, and this couldn’t be more important for all of you who spend your days sitting behind a desk. I appreciate that it can be really difficult to fit in a yoga class or a run around the park when you have a busy work life. However, it’s also important to understand that sitting behind a desk all day can cause all sorts of physical problems. General stiffness, as well as shoulder tension and leg cramps are very common for office workers. We are all familiar with RSI, but recently I have read about ‘Techno-neck’ which is a issue caused by hours sitting with our necks stretched forward not only at our desks computers, but on our phones during our daily commute.
I have put together a few exercises and stretches that will help anyone who sits a lot during their work day. These are simple and easy and will really make a difference, not just physically but they will also help with relieving stress. There’s no set rule for how often to do these. For the small stretches I would recommend trying to do them for at least 10 minutes every hour – you should be able to do them whilst working. For the more in-depth exercises I would suggest aiming for twice a day, try once in the morning and in the afternoon. But remember a little something is better than nothing, so if you manage to do a set once a week that’s still better than nothing. Even better why not trying to get the whole office involved and get everyone feeling better.
- Shoulder Shrug: raise the top of your shoulders upwards towards the ears, hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat several times.
- Hand & Finger Stretch: separating and straightening your fingers until the tension of a stretch is felt for about 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Head Tilt: gently tilt your head forward and hold for 5-10 seconds. Hold until a tension that feels good. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Upper Body Stretch: open your arms and stretch out to the sides, whilst breathing and opening up the chest cavity. Open your arms wide and take a deep breath to relax the shoulders from their normal position over the key board.
- Reach for the Stars: interlace your fingers and reach up towards the sky, as high as you can, keeping your palms facing upwards towards the ceiling.
- Seated Toy Soldier: sit up tall and extend your right arm all the way up towards the ceiling. Straighten your left leg out and raise it up as you bring your arm down and try to touch your left foot. Do 8-10 on each side.
- Knee Press: this exercise stretches out the glutes. With your right ankle on your left side, gently press against the right knee a few times. Of course, after your done with the right side be sure to give the left some love too!
- Squats: from your chair, stand up, sit back down and repeat 10 times
- Tricep Dips: these exercises target muscles that can be difficult to work, but they are so effective and can be done pretty much anywhere. You can use either your desk or your chair, (as long as it doesn’t have wheels on it). Position your hands shoulder-width apart on that desk or chair, then move your bottom off the front with your legs extended out in front of you. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbows. Use your arms to move up and down. Do 3 sets of 10.
- Calf Raises: stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 10.
- Chest Opener: bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together, sit up tall and hold for 5-10 seconds.
Also don’t forget to simply get up and walk around the office periodically. This will help your whole body to feel better and this will increase your productivity in the long run. My top tip to clients I work with is to try not to send emails within the office, instead get up and walk over to that person and talk to them.