The Importance of Stretching – Part 1
Our day to day lives put stresses on our bodies and over time, we build and store tension through bad posture and repetitive activity. This is especially true of people who work with computers.
Most office/computer workers are guilty of slouching, hunching, and peering (imagine a buzzard stance, hunched shoulders, and neck extended whilst looking at your pc screen!) and of not taking enough breaks to stretch.
The great thing about any stretching is – once you incorporate some moves into your daily routine, you should feel the benefits straight away.
Some of you may do a form of full-body stretching like Yoga or Pilates and if so, you’ll understand the benefits already!
This blog is for any IQBar staff who spend most of their workday sitting, looking down at a laptop, and who may not get much reprieve from this posture. This time, we’ll cover desk stretches and some simple exercises you can do with the help of a chair. In the next blog, we’ll talk about full body stretches.
When’s the best time to stretch?
Ideally, you should stretch first thing in the morning, the last thing in the evening, and take a break from your computer every two hours to stretch your legs.
People have busy lives so this ideal may not be attainable every single day. That’s fine, just aim to incorporate some of the desk and chair stretches detailed below to start with.
Any little adjustments you can make a few times a day will help you measurably. Let’s take a look at some tweaks you can make whilst working and during your breaks.
Your neck flexibility is important, but most posture problems come from hunching or tensing the shoulders. You can start with basic neck stretches in each direction, side to side then forwards and backward.
In Stretch 1, we’re going to be relaxing those shoulders!
- Sit up straight
- Unclench your jaw by parting your lips
- Lower your shoulders and allow them to fall back into their natural position. This opens up the chest and allows more blood to flow to your brain.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose whilst counting to three and count to four whilst breathing out through your mouth. Repeat five times.
- Continuing to breathe steadily, roll your shoulders backwards ten times, then forward ten times.
- To extend this stretch, place your fingertips on your shoulders and rotate your elbows, circling backwards ten times, then forwards ten times.
- Sitting side stretches (works best with an armless chair)
- Sit straight and raise your arms above your head.
- Link your fingers together and turn palms upwards.
- Stretch over to the left, pushing your palms away from you, and hold for five seconds or as long as is comfortable. Breathe deeply!
- Back to centre with arms raised. Stretch over to the right and repeat step 4.
- Aim to complete 5 stretches left and right.
(For this one, you’ll need an armless chair too.)
The aim of this stretch is to flex your legs and hips.
- With right foot firmly on the floor, bring your left knee up to your chest, or as close as is comfortable. Hold for five breaths, then alternate legs.
- With right foot firmly on the floor, bring your left ankle up to rest on your right thigh.
- To extend the stretch, gently push down your left knee with the palm of your hand.
- Hold this position for 5 deep breaths, alternate legs, and repeat.
- Aim to complete 5 stretches for each leg.
- To finish bend completely forwards to stretch your spine. Hold for at least five breaths then relax.
In part two of this blog, we’ll be looking at full body stretches that are best for starting your morning or ending your workday. In the meantime, remember you can do these exercises whenever you need to and also leave your desk space every two hours, to give your body a little respite from that sitting posture.