Take a Breather with At-Work Desk Stretches

As you sit reading this, what shape are you in? Are you hunched over your computer, leaning on your desk or slumped back in a chair? When you are concentrating or lost in thought it’s normal to be unaware of how you are holding yourself. That’s why it’s a good idea to take regular breaks, straighten up, refresh your posture and thinking.

This series of At-Work Desk Stretches can be done anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to be at work! But because we typically develop a forward posture from doing desk work, it’s the perfect opportunity to create a habit of stretching in the small moments of your day. Follow along with this video to learn simple stretches to open the chest and front of the shoulders, lengthen the spine and take a breather.

Posture and Productivity

How you sit or stand can affect your breathing, energy levels and your emotional well-being. Slouching can curtail lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. Muscle tension and stress also restrict blood flow to the brain. Some people develop tension headaches from staring at a computer screen for too long or after driving for long periods.

Continued poor posture can result in shallow breathing, causing general fatigue and shortness of breath. The breath should be like a wave, rising out of the abdomen and flowing up through the ribs and the chest as you inhale, filling your lungs with air. As you exhale, release the breath from the upper chest first, then down through the ribs and finally expel it with a light abdominal contraction.  

How Do You Stack Up?

Good posture and poor posture are both habits that develop from repeated movement patterns. Good posture helps the neuromuscular system operate efficiently, minimizing stresses on the body. Poor posture can strain your joints and ultimately lead to headaches, neck and shoulder tension, sciatica, and hip and knee pain. Stress and poor body mechanics can initiate these aches and exacerbate injuries, while improving your posture can bring relief from all these conditions.

Proper sitting posture requires awareness and effort. When sitting, engage your core muscles instead of relying on external support. The torso will passively conform to whatever type of chair you are sitting on, and properly designed chairs are rare. Keep your weight distributed evenly across both hips. Feel the sit bones, not the tailbone, beneath you. Sit up tall, with the spine straight and with a natural curve in the lower back.

When standing, distribute your weight evenly on both feet. Soften the knees so they are not locked or hyperextended. Stack your ribs up over your hips, pelvis in neutral, i.e. not tilted forward or backward. Think of elongating the torso, stretching the space between the ribs and the hips, lengthening the spine.

Practice good posture until it becomes ingrained. Get in the habit of taking frequent stretch breaks to straighten up and recharge your thinking. Breathe into the stretches to discharge tension and fuel the brain. A combination of simple stretches, proper alignment and mindful breathing will energize your body and mind.

(c) Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.