Even if you’re working in a home office or co-working space environment, you’re still working with your physical body, and that can cause tension. When working in an office, it’s important to stay active and get up from the desk now and then. Here are ten great stretches you can do to work out the knots and get the blood circulating! Remember to breathe throughout all of these stretches for maximum benefit and to prevent injury.
Suits You to a T
Stand with your feet slightly apart and without locking your knees. Raise your arms straight out from your sides, level with your shoulders, like a letter T. Imagine your arms being pulled out to their full length, in opposite directions. For a great nerve stretch, flex your fingers gently upward while keeping your palms facing down. Let your whole body be relaxed but stay stretched and tall throughout this exercise.
Reach for the Floor
Stand with feet slightly apart and without locking your knees. Inhale, and on the exhale, bend forward and reach for the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t touch the floor — this is about feeling good, not criticizing yourself. Let yourself “hang” in that position for a few seconds while breathing normally. Come up slowly and repeat if desired.
Go Ahead — Pull a Face
First, make sure no one is around, because you’re about to make some weird faces and you don’t want to scare anyone! Now, stretch out as many facial muscles as you can, at random. Open your eyes wide, then close and squint hard. Open your mouth as wide as you can. For the rest of the day, be aware of any tension you may be holding in your face, and let your expression be relaxed and peaceful.
Legs Up, Up — and Over!
We usually think of leg lifts as an intense exercise, but they can also be used for deep relaxation. Lie on your back and spend a few seconds breathing and releasing any tension you feel in your body. Lift your legs as far over your head as you can, with your feet flexed (not pointed). If you can, touch the floor with your toes. Stay in that position, breathing and feeling the stretch. Try a very slow descent for a great ab crunch.
Wall of Fame
There are so many ways you can use a wall for stretching and exercise. One is to stand facing the wall, place your palms on the wall and move your feet out about 12 inches or so. Do some gentle pushups against the wall, changing your hand placement to target different muscle groups. For more intensity, simply move the feet further out from the wall. To work on strengthening your fingers and wrists, push up on your fingertips or fists instead of palms.
Be Kind to Your Neck
Lie on the floor, completely relaxed and breathing. Lace your fingers behind your head and gently pull your head up from the floor. With your head still in your hands, gently rotate your head from side to side. Try not to hold any tension in your neck during this exercise — you should be limp like a rag doll.
Do the Twist
For this one, you can stay in your chair. Keep your lower torso facing forward, and twist your upper torso around as far as you can, to one side and then the other. Hold yourself in the twisted position and breathe deeply before returning to neutral.
Help For Hardworking Hands
Give yourself little hand massages throughout the day, especially if you do a lot of typing. Push into all the muscles of your hand with your opposite thumb. Squeeze each hand all over. Lace your fingers together and squeeze them firmly against each other. Repeatedly splay and contract your fingers and rotate your wrists.
Happy Hamstring Time
To release tension in the lower leg and foot arch, stand facing the wall. Place the pad of your foot on the wall. Gently move yourself closer to the wall until the foot is as flexed as possible and the hamstring is stretched out. Repeat (while breathing!) with the other foot and leg.
Rolling — It’s Not Just For Babies
The benefit to your entire body of simply rolling around cannot be overstated. Begin on your back in the “happy baby” position (holding your feet). Stretch your legs out, then let your go of your feet and simply roll, end over end or log-style. There are no “wrong” rolls as long as you protect your neck. As you roll, be aware of spots that feel good in a particular position, and hold that for a few seconds. It sounds crazy, but you will be amazed at how awake, happy and relaxed you feel after rolling!
In Russian martial arts, there is a saying: “The floor is an honest partner.” You can use your floor, desk and walls combined with only your body weight to create dozens of stretches and exercises right in your own office. Don’t worry what your neighbors think — when they see how good you feel, they’ll want to try it too!