Written by Adam Schaffer
Working hard at your desk is consequently, hard on your body. We all have felt the lower back pain, the tight neck, and tired upper back while slaving over a desk for hours each day. The phrase “office yoga” tends to strike people the wrong way. Their go-to reason to avoid office yoga is due to how silly they will look in front of their coworkers when they pop into some weird stretch in the middle of the office. However, there are 8 subtle yet effective yoga poses you can do at your desk and in your chair.
Begin standing up straight, then bend at the hips. Place your hands on your thighs, shins, or floor for support, holding this pose for 3 breaths. If you’re concerned about looking silly then just drop a pen, a few paper clips, or an entire drawer full of useless office supplies and get a good stretch while “picking them up.”
Sitting in your chair, sit up straight and grab the right armrest with both hands. Rotate the torso in the opposite direction. You should feel this stretch in your lower back and at the sides of your ribcage. Hold this pose on each side for 3 breaths, and repeat as often as you’d like.
Side Body Opener:
Sitting in your chair with your chest up, place your right hand on the back of your neck and place the left hand on your right elbow. Gently pull the right elbow down. If you want a little deeper of a stretch, keep your arms in this alignment then tip over to the left side. Hold each side for 3 breaths.
Place your hands under your thighs with the top of your hands on the chair and the palm of your hand facing upwards. position your chest above your thighs and keep your arms straight. Hold this pose for 3 breaths. You can flip your hands and repeat the instructions above.
Sitting in your chair, place the back of your shoulder on the desk followed by your elbow and forearm. Then drop your chest onto your arm and relax your head and neck. Hold on each side for 3 breaths.
While sitting in your chair, bring your arms overhead and grab your right wrist with your left hand then begin to tip over to the left side. If you want a deeper stretch, tip over a little more and rotate your chest open towards the ceiling. Try to hold each side for 3 breaths.
Sitting up straight, place your right ankle over your left knee. Keep your chest up straight while gently pushing the right knee down towards the floor. Also, keep the foot flexed while holding this pose on each side for 3 or more breaths.
Lastly, while sitting in your chair, place your hands on your lower back while drawing your elbows towards one another. Then bring your chest forward while slowly dropping your head back. This pose can be difficult for some so try and hold this pose for a breath or two.
Yes, this can seem tedious and strange but it’s worth it. Doing small movements every day at your desk will allow your body to open up when has been tight for a significant amount of time. Neglecting to do these stretches each day will result in short term and long term consequences.
Stress can lead to heart disease as well as weaken productivity in the workplace. In just :15 seconds of stretching, your body begins to release tension and stress. However, the pain most commonly felt for office workers is lower back pain. Lower back pain is due to tight hamstrings, a tight pelvis, and a weak core. The Baltimore Business Journal expressed that sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time causes pressure on spinal disks 40% more than just simply standing which is probably why you feel better when you stand up after sitting all day.
Stretching is great for lower back pain but also for reducing serious disorders caused by tight muscles and joints. It can reduce your chance for musculoskeletal disorders, or MSD which is a light sprain in the spine, lower back, shoulders, or knees. It reduces the chance of getting tendonitis, tennis elbow, and “blackberry” thumbs also known as cumulative trauma disorders or CTD. Amazingly, stretching everyday, even light stretching like the poses shown above, can reduce your chances of developing arthritis over time.
Conclusion: Working hard at the office doesn’t mean your body has to suffer for it. There is no need to run a million miles a day or spend hours in the gym to keep your body in a healthy state. Stretching a few times a day, preferably in the morning, midday, and in the evening will keep your muscles happy, reduce the risk of serious disorders as well as keep the office space positive and productive. You can accomplish all of this while at your desk and/or in your chair.