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Here are some stretches that you can do right at your desk to relieve shoulders and back that ache from hunching over your computer. Do these stretches in the middle of the day and not only will you feel invigorated, you will actually be reducing your risk of a work related upper limb disorder.

Consider bookmarking this article so you can quickly access it during the day.

Spinal Twist

Ingrid Aria, founder of Jerusalem’s The Yoga Homeschool demonstrates some stretches that you can do at the office.  Ingrid is an expert in yoga for back care and releasing tension caused by our western lifestyle.

  • Find a chair without wheels and sit sideways on the chair.
  • Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale, twist toward the back of the chair and place one hand on either side of the chair’s back, approximately waist height.
  • Exhale, push against the chair with your front hand as you invite yourself into the twist from your back hand and shoulder.  Allow the front knee and foot of the leg you are moving away from to move slightly ahead of the knee and foot you are moving towards. Don’t lead with your neck. Shoulders lead, neck and head follow.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your chest.  The more you oxygenate your muscles, the less tired you will feel.
  • Start out by holding this stretch for four breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Back Stretch

  • Sit at the front edge of your chair and face forward.  Make sure that you are grounded symmetrically through your left and right sitting bones without arching forward or slouching back.
  • Hold the sides of your chair and press your hands down taking some of the weight off your seat.
  • Allow your chest to rise up. Breathe deeply into chest without allowing your back to arch.

Upper Back Stretch

  • Reach your left arm in front of you and bring it across your body.
  • Place the palm of your right hand hand just below the elbow of your left. Feel the stretch across the centre of your upper back as you press the left arm into and across your body.

Chair Pose at the Wall

Seem strange to do chair pose as a relief from sitting?  Activating the legs actually gives your neck and shoulders a break.

  • Step away from the wall with your feet parallel and hip width apart. It’s important to be barefoot or on a non-slip surface (carpet will do).
  • Press your feet into the floor to activate legs.  Your thighs do not have to be parallel to the ground.
  • Press the back of your pelvis into the wall. Keep your pelvis neutral.  Don’t arch forward or curve back at your lower spine. Your shoulders and head do NOT have to reach the wall.
  • Stay here for four deep breaths. You will feel invigorated.

Shoulder Opener with Hand at Wall

  • Stand perpendicular to the wall with your feet firmly placed on the ground.
  • Bend your elbow and place your hand on the wall at about shoulder height, fingers facing up.
  • Inhale.  Exhale and press the centre of your finger tips into the wall. (Your fingers will want to roll towards your pinky.  Don’t let them.)  Don’t allow your body to turn towards or away from the wall.
  • Bring your elbow toward the front as you press your fingers into the wall to experience an opening at your shoulder.

Remember, it’s not sitting that is an ergonomic risk.  It’s maintaining any static posture for prolonged periods that strains your musculoskeletal system. The tiredness you experience from just sitting at your desk is the result of muscle tension, repetitive strain and holding postures for a long time. Exercise in your leisure time is not enough.  You have to stretch during the day.