More and more of us are leading sedentary work lives that see us in offices, sitting in chairs, and staring at screens for most of our day. Partly because of this, Americans are reporting higher incidences of back pain and posture-related issues than ever before.
According to the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, almost 65 million Americans have reported having an issue with back pain recently and nearly 16 million adults experience persistent or chronic back pain. This is in addition to other ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), knee pain, and general tightness of muscles or limited range of motion that come from being strapped to our desks and screens.
Fortunately, with a little preventative desk exercise, you can fend off the aches and pains before they become too serious. In this article, we’ll explain seven stretches that you can do from the comfort of your desk that will improve posture and lessen pain, as well as some additional natural remedies, like CBD topical creams, for helping with the stubborn aches that won’t go away.
It’s Time For Your Desk Exercise Stretching Routine!
Before getting started, make sure you are sitting properly upright in your chair. Your ears should be over your shoulders and the small of your back should have a slight bend. Take a long, deep breath in through your nose to the count of three and then release through your mouth. As you release, drop your shoulders and relax a little. Allow your tongue to fall from the top of your mouth and feel that general sense of calm come over you. Repeat at least two more times before starting, each time relaxing a little more.
Now that you’re a little less tense, it’s time to start! Remember, when performing any of these stretches or movements, go only as far as what is comfortable for you. Over time, you will likely notice an increased range of motion but go slowly. And if you feel any pain, immediately stop.
Let’s get started!
Invert your hands, so your palms are facing away from you. Push from your wrists and bend your fingers only slightly.
Benefit: This will help your fingers, wrists, and shoulders.
Take it further: With your fingers still linked, slowly bring your hands up above your head and push upward as if you are trying to touch the ceiling. You’ll feel an added stretch in your sides.
Exercise 2: Head Tilts
How to do it: Slowly bring your left ear towards your left shoulder. Bring it as far as is comfortable. Don’t worry – this may not be very far at all! Hold the position for two to three breaths. Then, proceed to do the same on the right side, bringing your right ear to your right shoulder. Go slowly. There’s no rushing here.
Benefit: This will help alleviate stiffness in your neck.
Now, with your arms at your side, sitting up straight, raise your shoulders upward as if you are trying to touch your ears with them. Hold for two or three deep breaths and then release.
Benefit: Great for releasing tension from your shoulders and back.
Exercise 4: Sitting Hamstring Stretch
How to do it: You will need enough space to extend your leg in front of you, so it’s recommended that you don’t try this facing your desk. Pointing away or to the side will be better.
With your right foot firmly planted on the ground, slowly raise and extend your left leg, so it sticks out straight in front of you, with your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Hold for two or three deep breaths and then slowly release. Repeat with your right leg. You can hang onto your pant legs for help, but don’t pull on them to go beyond what’s safe or comfortable.
Benefit: Tight hamstrings are often the cause of lower back pain. Loosening them will help.
Exercise 5: Seated Spinal Twist
How to do it: Plant both feet firmly in front of you and inhale deeply. On an exhalation, rotate your upper body slowly to the left. Remember, your knees should stay pointing forward here. If it helps, you can cross your arms over your chest to make sure you’re not using your shoulder to reach back. Only go as far as you feel comfortable.
Once you reach your sweet spot, hold the position for a couple of breaths and slowly release on an exhalation, coming back to the center. Repeat on the right side. You can use the back of your chair to help you maintain balance, but never use it to pull yourself further than your body permits. Remember: This shouldn’t be painful.
Benefit: This will “lengthen” your spine, creating more space between vertebrae, which ultimately helps your posture.
Exercise 6: Prayer Position
How to do it: Bring your hands together in front of you, up off your desk, into the prayer position. Holding your hands in front of you at chest level, ensure your fingers are pointing towards the ceiling or even slightly back towards you.
Begin by first pressing the base of your palms together just above your wrists. Do so firmly, but not with excessive force. Remember, this shouldn’t hurt! After a deep breath, move to do the same thing with your thumb and then fingers. Begin with your index finger and do them one set at a time until you reach your pinky finger.
Benefit: This will help relieve tension in your fingers and wrists.
Take it further: After releasing the position, draw your fingers in and out five times and follow this with five wrist rotations.
Exercise 7: Overhead Side Reach
How to do it: Once again, plant those feet firmly in front of you and scoot ahead on your chair if the arms are going to prevent you from keeping your own arms at your side. With your left arm at your side, bring your right arm up with the palm facing inward. Gently begin to bend at your side, but remain facing forward. Slowly bring your right hand over your head, arm fully extended, towards your left side.
It may help to “reach” the floor with your left hand. Release and repeat by bringing your right hand down and raising your left hand, following the same directions for the opposite side.
Benefit: This will help stretch out your sides and have positive benefits for your back and posture.
Stretching and working on your general mobility is a great way to fend off aches and pains, but sometimes they come around anyway. Instead of reaching for a painkiller that can have a negative impact on your stomach and liver health, you should try some natural remedies instead.
CBD products like CBD topical creams can be used to help pain reduction in specific areas. And if you’re looking for something to do out of the office, acupuncture or a deep tissue massage can both go a long way to helping you be free of general discomfort.