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December Fitness & Wellness Corner
By Christie Simoson, Assistant Fitness Director

Now that I have the song by James Brown stuck in your head, I want to discuss why we should indeed, GET UP! As the workday progresses, we find our posture paying the price. Maybe you notice that you’re hunched over with rounded shoulders, a forward head/neck, a stiff lower back, and tight hip flexors; Or, maybe you feel like a creature out of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter at the end of the day when you try to stand up (yup, that’s me). Regardless of how you feel, the fact is that our posture is potentially worsening. Factor in the hours per day, days per week, and weeks per year that we are in this seated position, and we may find ourselves with some pretty serious aches and pains that can later develop into health issues. The good news is that there is a quick, FREE, and easy way to help alleviate these concerns (and you do not even have to leave your office)!

Sitting at a desk, driving a car, or reading our phones/ tablets with poor posture can lead to developing upper crossed syndrome. This means that our muscles and tendons in our chest, anterior deltoids (front shoulders), hip flexors, and hamstrings are constantly in a shortened state. Because this posture can lead to overactive muscles, it is important to stretch them out.

In other words, take a break! Make it a point to walk around a bit at least once per hour. I understand that sometimes we get in the groove of things and time flies by, but maybe we can set an alarm at ½ past each hour to just stand up and do a few stretches. Taking a break is not only a benefit for your muscles, but also your mind as well, as it is a great way to help refocus.

Beneficial Desk Stretches

I suggest working from the top to the bottom! Hold each of the following stretches for 15-30 seconds each. Then repeat as many times as you would like. Stretch the muscle to the point of tension; please note that a stretch should never be painful!

Neck Stretch

Give yourself a few neck rolls in each direction and then pause for 15 seconds leaning your ear to your shoulder (without raising your shoulder up).

Chest Stretch

Intertwine your fingers behind your back, pushing your chest toward the front of the room.

Shoulder Stretch

Take one arm across your body and use your other arm to hug your stretching arm to deepen the stretch. Make sure you keep your stretching shoulder down and relaxed! You should feel this stretch on the outside of your arm and shoulder.

Forearm Stretch

Extend one arm out in front of you and point your fingers down facing your palm to the wall in front of you. Keeping your shoulders down and back, use your other hand to pull your fingers back toward your body. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Then point your fingers up, bending at the wrist. Use your other hand to pull your hand toward your face while keeping your arm extended. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat the same on the other arm.

Tricep Stretch

Put one arm up and bend your elbow so that the underside of your arm is facing outward. Next, use your opposite arm to gently pull your elbow backwards so that you feel a stretch in your tricep muscle.

Upper Body Stretch

Interlock both hands above your head, palms facing the ceiling. Sit straight up, then push your palms upward and elongate your spine. You should feel a nice stretch in your back. Make sure to keep your shoulders down, away from your ears.

Lateral Stretch

From the Upper Body Stretch, shift your arms toward the right while keeping your torso to the left. You should then feel a stretch in your entire left side of your torso. Then repeat on the opposite side.

Gentle Spinal Twist

Cross one leg over the other, then gently twist your body toward the leg that is on top with a straight spine. You can use the arm of the chair to pull yourself into a deeper twist if need be.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand up and place one foot on top of the chair behind you. Keeping your shoelaces on top of the seat of the chair, shift forward onto your standing leg, bringing your back hip forward as well. You will feel a nice stretch through the hip flexor of that back leg. Keep your lower back as straight as possible, activating your abdomen by pulling your belly button back toward your spine.

Hamstring Stretch

Stand up out of your chair and place one foot about half a foot-length in front of the other. Gently lean forward while maintaining a flat back and relatively straight legs, placing your palms or forearms on the desk. Flex your ankle, drawing your toes off the floor. You should feel this all along the back of your leg.

Quad Stretch

Stand up and place one hand on the back of your chair. Kick the leg on the opposite side back and catch it with the hand that is free. Hold your heel toward your buttocks while remaining standing straight. You should feel this in the front of your leg.

Calf Raises

Stand up and place your hands on the back of your chair. Keeping a micro-bend in your knees, lift your heels up off the ground and hold for “1 Mississippi”. Then lower your heel back to the ground. Repeat until you complete 15 repetitions.

The above stretches help elongate the muscles that are consistently in the shortened state due to sitting at a desk for a long period of time. Remembering to take a few minutes throughout the day to stretch can save yourself quite a few aches and pains down the road. Try them out and let me know which stretch is your favorite!

Loving these stretches and want a bit more? Try one of our Yoga or Mo(bility) & Flex(ibility) classes! Check out our Group Fitness Schedule here.

This blog post was written to provide educational information only. This article should not be used as a substitute or a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions or concerns about your personal health, you should always consult with your physician. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or health care professional before beginning any fitness regimen to determine if it is suitable for your needs. The use of any information provided by this article is solely at your risk.