Sitting hunched over a computer for 9 hours a day can lead to poor posture, imbalances and injury. Basically, your desk job puts your body in constant flexion, which causes certain muscles to become tight while others become inactive.
To correct this poor posture, you should include extension exercises and stretches into your daily routine.
Here are 5 Desk Exercises To Alleviate Desk Job Aches And Pains that open you up and work on your extension to reverse the effects of sitting all day. You can do these moves right at your desk throughout the day.
1. Wrist Release
We may not realize it, but our wrists and elbows are in flexion for most of the day. This can lead to wrist, elbow and even shoulder aches, pains and injuries.
To help prevent and alleviate wrist, elbow and shoulder pain, we need to open up our hands, wrists and forearms. The Wrist Release is a great stretch to use. This move places our fingers, wrists and elbows in extension to help open everything up.
To do the Wrist Release, stretch one arm out in front of you with the palm facing away and the fingertips pointing down toward the ground.
Using your other hand, press one finger at a time of the arm extended out in front of you down and back while keeping your arm out straight. Do not let your other fingers flex or tighten as you stretch each finger. Keep your hand relaxed and don’t let your fingers crunch up. Also make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and do not shrug.
Hold the stretch on each finger for a second or two. Work your way from thumb to pinky, holding on each finger for a second or two. Go back and repeat the stretch if you feel tightness when extending a finger. You can also do a final stretch pressing all your fingers into extension.
You can do this stretch standing or seated just make sure to maintain a nice tall posture.
For more wrist, elbow and shoulder exercises to help prevent and alleviate pain, click here.
2. Scapular Wall Hold
Many of us sit hunched forward over a computer during the day or slouched in our car. Our heads are forward and our back is rounded making our upper traps and chests very tight. This can lead to a weak upper back and neck, shoulder and upper back pain. That is why we need to include the Scapular Wall Hold into our daily routine.
The Scapular Wall Hold is a great move to stretch our chest, improve our posture, activate our mid and lower traps and strengthen the big muscles of our back. Plus, you can do it anywhere!
To do the Scapular Wall Hold, stand with your back to the wall and your elbows bent in by your side. Make sure your chest is pressed out and that you aren’t shrugging your shoulders. You can then walk your feet out further from the wall to make the move harder. However, only walk your feet out further if you can really feel the move working between your shoulder blades.
Lean back against the wall and drive your elbows back into the wall as you press your chest out and open toward the ceiling. Only your elbows should touch as you lean back against the wall and press your chest out. Draw your shoulder blades down and back. Think about driving your elbows back into the wall, but also down toward your hips as you hold so that you don’t shrug your shoulders.
Relax your head back and keep your body in a nice straight line as if holding a plank. Do not tuck your chin or tense your neck. Walk your feet back toward the wall to make the move easier or walk them away to make the move harder.
Make sure to drive the chest out and draw your shoulder blades down and together as you hold. Focus on feeling the muscles of your back work and your chest stretch. Squeeze your glutes to help keep your body in a nice straight line.
3. Extended Triangle
When you sit at a desk hunched over a computer all day, your back isn’t the only thing in flexion. Your hips and knees are also in flexion, which can lead to low back, hip and even knee pain. The Extended Triangle opens up not only your chest and spine, but also your hips, hamstrings and calves.
To do the Extended Triangle, set up in a wide stance, stepping one foot forward with the other back. Your feet should be about 4 feet apart. Turn your back toe out while your front foot points straight ahead so that your feet are almost perpendicular. Make sure that your front heel lines up with the instep of your back foot.
Then reach the same arm as the leg that is forward out in front of you. Push your butt back and hinge over at the hips, as you reach that arm forward down to the ground.
Make sure to keep your legs straight as you hinge at the hips. If your legs start to bend, you should not reach any lower. You can also adjust your stance and bring your back foot in so your stance isn’t quite as wide to help keep your legs straight.
Reach your hand down as low as you can as you rotate your chest open toward the ceiling, reaching your opposite hand up toward the ceiling. Place your hand on the ground at the instep of your foot. If you can’t reach the ground, you can also place your hand on a block, your foot, your shin or your ankle to help keep your legs straight.
Hold and breathe as you try to relax deeper into the stretch.
4. Crescent Pose
Sitting all day can cause your hips to become tight, which can lead to low back and hip pain as well as inactive glutes. That is why it is important to do moves such as the Crescent Pose.
The Crescent Pose opens up your hips and quads while engaging your glutes and working your legs. It can even help open up your chest and back as it works to improve your core stability and balance.
To do Crescent, step one foot forward into a wide lunge stance with both feet pointing straight ahead. Bend your front knee and sink down into a deep lunge while keeping your back leg straight. Keep your weight centered and drive back through your back heel even though it will be raised off the ground. Make sure your front heel stays down.
Holding in the low lunge, your front knee should be aligned over your ankle and you should squeeze your glutes to drive your hips forward. Feel a nice stretch down the hip of the back leg.
Reach your hands up and back overhead. Keep your front heel down as you sit back into the lunge. If your front heel is coming up, you may want to step your front foot forward a bit more.
Make sure your lower back isn’t arching as you reach back overhead. By squeezing your back glute, you will make sure your hip is stretching and not your back. Beginners may not be able to sink as low in the lunge.
A great full-body stretch to open up your entire anterior chain, a.k.a. everything down your front side, including your chest and hips, is the Camel Stretch. This is also a great bridge variation to help activate your glutes. By opening everything up, the Camel Stretch helps to prevent pain and injury up and down your body!
To do Camel, kneel on the ground with your knees about hip-width apart and your feet flexed. Sit back on your heels and place your hands on your heels. If you want to make the stretch more intense, point your toes instead of flexing them.
Keeping your hands on your heels, arch your hips up and away, lifting your glutes up off your heels and pressing your chest out. Bridge up and squeeze your glutes to fully extend your hips as you lean your head back and press your chest out.
As you relax into the stretch, you should feel a nice stretch down your chest, core, hips and quads. Do not let your shoulders shrug as you hold. Also make sure to squeeze your glutes so you don’t feel your low back engaging.
You can simply hold here or you can perform reps, bridging up and then sitting back down on your heels. If you perform reps, hold for 1-2 seconds and then relax back down.
If you are less flexible, you can use your desk chair to help you stretch. Using your chair, you will kneel down with the chair behind you. Then place your hands back behind you on the chair while you sit back on your heels. Keeping your arms straight behind you and your hands on the chair, press your chest out and arch away as you lean your head back. Squeeze your glutes and stretch your hips as you bridge away from the chair.
Use these 5 moves throughout the day to stretch out and open everything up to improve your posture, correct imbalances and prevent and alleviate aches and pains. For even more desk exercises, click here.
Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.