Stretching at your desk
By Tom Vradenburg, EAC-NCR Chair
If you’re chair-bound for most of the day, your body can gradually cramp up. You may feel tension in your neck; your hip flexor muscles will gradually tighten, your posture may deteriorate.
You may not have an hour to spare, or the inclination, to hit the gym. Here are some quick stretches you can do in the time it takes your kettle to boil—and of course you have time for tea, don’t you?
Do these for the neck muscles:
- Sit upright in your chair—good posture, now!—relax your shoulders. Your pelvis should be tilted slightly forward, your spine ‘neutral’—meaning there’s a slight forward curve in the lower, lumbar region, but otherwise it’s straight.
- Imagine there is a string wrapped around your earlobe and hanging beside your arm. Imagine that string being pulled gently, gradually and incrementally. Don’t let your shoulders tilt, and don’t worry if your neck does not flex very far. Don’t push your head with your hand, just use gravity and the weight of your head. If you feel mild discomfort, keep going; if you feel pain, stop.
- Hold this position for 30 or 45 seconds. You can hold this, or any, stretch for two or three minutes.
- Repeat with the other ear moving towards the other shoulder.
- When the kettle comes to a boil, pour water into your teapot.
- Now that you’ve done east and west, repeat with north and south while you’re waiting for the tea to steep. When you tilt your head back, you’ll feel some tugging in the neck muscles that support your jaw: as long as there’s no pain, that’s natural.
I have been a YMCA-certified group fitness instructor for seven years. I teach group cardio and strength classes at the gym at my office about once a week.