Sitting for hours at a time could kill you. I mean, not to be dramatic, but it’s true. There has been loads of research done to prove that sitting for prolonged periods of time opens you up to a host of health problems. Many offices are encouraging their employees to get up and move around. People are also adopting standing desks to encourage movement. Stretching at your desk is also a fantastic way to break up the amount of time that you sit and, even if you have a standing desk, can help prevent you from getting stiff.
Do Standing Desks Work?
Standing desks are great if you use them correctly. There are many benefits including reducing the risk of obesity and cancer. You’ll also enjoy better posture and even a longer life. A 2011 study found that your life expectancy gains two year just by cutting your sitting time from six to three hours.
If you can use a standing desk, take the time to set it up properly. Ensure that it’s the correct height for yourself so you’re standing up straight. You don’t want to do this to benefit your body, only to realize you’re hunching over to type or straining yourself to see your computer screen! Consider standing on a cushion to alleviate pressure on your lower body.
Here are a few other tips from Huffington Post including where your computer monitor should be and the importance of moving and how to incorporate sitting. If you come home and feel muscle soreness, opt for a wet heat therapy instead of dry heat.
Simple stretches performed at your desk will help to prevent stiffness and also encourage you to get up and move, something you should be doing whether you sit or stand.
Stretches for Your Back
There are a few simple yoga poses you may be familiar with that are great to stretch out your back and your desk.
You can do this on the floor (if you trust the cleaning team!) or in your chair. Sit up straight and place your feet on the ground, bending your knees if you’re sitting on the floor. If you’re in your chair, sit with your back perpendicular to the back of your chair. Use your arms to pull yourself towards the back of the chair, keeping your hips and feet where they are. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the other side.
If you’re on the floor, cross your right elbow over your left knee or thigh and place your left hand behind you for support. Using the arm on your leg, twist and look over your left shoulder. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Again, this can be done on the floor or at your chair. For either one, start with a neutral spine. If on the floor get into a “tabletop position,” aligning your shoulders over your wrists, hips over knees. For the cow, drop your stomach to the floor and look up. To transition to cat, engage your core and draw your navel to your spine. Round your back and look down. Repeat as much as you want.
If you’re sitting at your desk, sit up straight and place your feet on the floor. Stick your tail out and look up, arching your back. That’s the cat part. Drop your head and round your back and shoulders, pulling your tail under. That’s the cow.
Stretches for your Arms, Shoulders, and Neck
A staple at any group workout class! Make big circles with your arms. Perform a few cycles in both directions. If you can, move one arm forward and the other back, then switch. There’s no difference in the benefits, it’s just fun!
You hold a lot of tension in your neck. Whether you realize it or not, neck tension leads to shoulder tension. Sit tall in your chair with your feet on the floor. Roll your chin towards your chest, then roll your right ear towards your right shoulder, then roll your left ear towards your left shoulder. You can also make circles in the air with your nose if you want.
Stretch your Wrists
Typing all day leads to a host of wrist problems. Stretch them out while you’re doing your other poses. Hold your arms out and point your fingers toward the floor with the back of your hand pointing up. Flex and point your wrist. Then, change the orientation of your wrist. Flip it over so the inside of your wrist is facing the ceiling and your fingers are pointing towards the floor. Imagine pushing your wrist forward while you pull your fingers back towards your body.
Stretch your Entire Body with a Forward Fold
Stand tall with your fit about hip-width apart. Make sure you have a comfortable, solid footing. Bend from the waist and bring your chest towards your thighs. Let your head and arms hang towards the ground. Release any tension so you’re really hanging there. If it feels good, you may want to grab your elbows with your opposite hands and “rag doll.” Hold for a few breaths.