12 Stretches for Office Workers
People who work at a desk all day know that after a long day, stretching is a necessity. Being seated in an uncomfortable office chair during the workday can lead to tightness and even strains if you don’t take special care to stretch stiff muscles. These twelve stretches are essential for office workers to relieve tightness and improve posture. These can be done in any order, or in the order they are written, for a quick full body stretch after work.
Okay, it might not sound much like a stretch, but intentional breathing does wonders for clearing the mind and winding down after the workday. Start by taking a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair and close your eyes. Draw a long breath in through your nose, hold it briefly, and exhale out your mouth. Let yourself drift away from any work stressors you brought home with you and center your mind on the present moment.
Seated forward fold
A seated forward fold offers a deep stretch across your lower back and throughout the back of your legs to counteract the stiffness that comes from an uncomfortable office chair. In a seated position, extend your arms overhead and sweep them in front of you, reaching toward your toes. Allow the muscles in your face, neck, and shoulders to soften.
Extended mountain pose
Slowly come to a standing position, shaking out any tension on your way up. Bring both arms overhead, stand tall, and reach toward the sky. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and feel free to bend slightly backward to relieve tension in the upper back. You can feel the lengthening in your spine as you stand tall and extend through the tips of your fingers.
Standing forward fold
Sitting at a desk all day makes it hard to have good posture, so it is essential to take time to decompress the spine. The best way to do this is a standing forward fold. In a standing position, reach both arms over the head. Slowly, fold forward, allowing your arms and neck to soften and hang in front of you. Keep a slight bend in your knees and find a comfortable position to press both feet into the ground.
Tree pose is a great way to improve your balance and work on stability. Slowly, roll your spine back up to a standing position. Bring both arms overhead with your palms pressed together. Squeeze your core muscles, bring one foot off the ground, and press the sole of that foot into either your ankle, calf, or inner thigh. Don’t feel like you need to bring your foot all the way up to your thigh, start by bringing it to your ankle and then move it up as you center your balance. Repeat on both sides.
To really stretch through the lower back, kick your right leg backward and catch your right ankle with the palm of your right hand. Extend your left hand forward and press your right foot into your right hand, creating a slight arch in your lower back. Tighten your core to support yourself and let yourself stretch across your chest. Switch sides and do the same thing with your left foot. Be careful not to overextend your back, and only bend to a comfortable arch.
To ground your body and mind, come to Warrior II by bringing your right foot forward and stretching your left foot backward, tilted to a forty-five-degree angle. Bend your right knee and extend your right arm forward while bringing your left arm backward. Allow yourself to sink into the lunge and feel how powerful your body is as it supports you. Repeat on the other side.
From Warrior II, straighten your front leg and reach down towards the ground with the arm that is on the same side as your front foot. Reach your other arm towards the ceiling and open across your chest. Bring your gaze towards the sky. Repeat on the other side.
Downward facing dog
Lengthening your back in a downward-facing dog can help counteract being seated all day. Bring your hands and feet to the floor, approximately where you would place them when doing a plank. Then, press down through your palms to push your hips high into the air. Your body should create a triangle between the ground, your legs, and your arms. Keep a soft bend behind both knees and stretch your tailbone towards the ceiling. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and look towards your toes.
To boost your core muscles and to further ground your body, come to a plank position. Place both hands, palm side down, on the floor beneath your shoulders. Bring both legs behind you and press into the toes on each foot. Tighten your core muscles and press the ground away from you. Hold here while you take a few deep breaths.
Upward Facing Dog
From a plank, flatten your feet so that the tops of your feet are pressing into the ground. Press into your palms and lift your thighs off the mat, creating a soft arch in your lower back. Open your chest, look high towards the ceiling, and soften the muscles in your face and neck.
To ring out any tension that is still left, come to a seated position, and bend your right knee. Hook your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh. Plant your right palm on the ground and look over your right shoulder to engage in a full twist. Take several deep breaths as you relax deeper into the twist. Repeat on the other side.