Long periods of sitting typically causes pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulders and lower back. These are not the only areas to cause pain; headaches, tingling in the fingers, tennis elbow, hip pain as well as a host of other symptoms can be really quite common in desk workers. Whilst desk workers are also not the only demographic to suffer aches and pains, as it is something our massage therapists at Melbourne Combined Natural Therapies are often presented with, we have put together a short routine of stretches that can be performed at the desk and which target some of the main muscle groups feeling tight and restrictive from long hours of computer work and move the spine to reduce associated joint pain and stiffness.
Spine | Seated Stretches For Desk Workers
- To perform a side bend, raise one arm overhead and lean up and over to the opposite side to feel a stretch in the side of the waist, ribs and along the arm.
- Hold the stretch briefly and use the side abdominals to return back to neutral. Repeat on the other side. This moves the spine in lateral flexion.
- Sitting in a neutral position once more, raise the arms forwards so that they are horizontal to the ground
- Draw back with the elbow on one side, look towards that elbow and allow the ribcage to rotate as well
- Stretch the fingers of the opposite hand forwards, imagine the sternum leads the rotation of the body and keep the pelvis steady. Repeat from side to side. This rotation of the spine improves flexibility in the upper back.
- Return to neutral, interlink the fingers and extend the arms forwards whilst gently rolling the chin to the chest and allowing the upper back to round slightly
- Reverse the movement by drawing the elbows back, and lifting the chest to gently arch the spine and stretch the chest
- Repeat several times. This articulates the spine in flexion and extension.
Neck | Seated Stretches For Desk Workers
- Sitting in neutral, tip the ear to the shoulder ensuring the shoulders stay level to stretch the muscles down the side of the neck
- Hold for a few rounds of breath and return to the centre
- Stretch to the other side
- Once back to neutral, tip the head forwards by bringing the nose towards the armpit
- This will stretch the muscles running down the back of the neck on the opposite side which can contribute to slouching and shrugged shoulders
- Hold for a few rounds of breath and return to the centre. Don’t allow the body to slump
- Stretch to the other side.
- Scooting forwards in the chair to the edge of the seat pan, extend one leg forwards
- A slight micro-bend in the knee if you have any knee pain, a flexed foot (toes drawing back towards the body) if it’s comfortable, otherwise a relaxed foot
- Hinge forwards at the hip joint by keeping the lower back straight. Rounding the back will not target the hamstring muscles
- Tight hamstrings will mean you will feel a stretch in the back of the leg by sitting up straight or hinging forwards fractionally. More flexible people will need to hinge forwards further
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, repeat on the other leg
- Sitting back in the centre of the seat place the ankle of one leg onto the knee of the opposite leg
- Sit up tall so that the lower back is not rounded. You may need to open the hip joint more by pressing the knee down very lightly in order to feel a stretch
- More flexible people may need to hinge forwards at the hip joint slightly to feel a stretch
- The stretch should be around the back of the hip on the bent up leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, repeat on the other leg
- If there is any knee discomfort, flex the foot slightly and don’t apply any pressure to the knee or perform the lying down version instead.
This whole routine can be performed regularly but don’t forget to get up and move around or take a short walk regularly too.
Melbourne Natural Therapies