In this day and age, we have very little time to do things for ourselves, much less exercise and commit to our health. Whether it is taking care of the kids, work, or any number of things that can take a part in taking away from the time that we have for ourselves. I find often that if I am sitting at a desk for up to 8 hours a day I get quite sore and tense. My legs start to ache as soon as I get up, my ankles feel tight. This is why I decided to find the best 5 stretches that take less than 5 minutes. This made it easy to incorporate into my workday, and my body felt better for it! Not only will you feel better, but you will find that they will give you a much-needed energy boost during the day when you only have 5 minutes to spare.
1. Neck and shoulder stretchHunching over your computer all day can certainly give you tightness in your neck and shoulders, I know this from experience. The reason behind this is the strain that it can put on your cervical spine and it can also stiffen your shoulders. You can stretch this area by reaching behind you, interlocking your fingers behind your back. Then you lift your arms and you will be able to feel the stretch in the shoulders and chest. You do not even need to get up from your desk! This stretch is simple and effective, and I easily find time for it during the day as it takes far less than 5 minutes and I barely have to move.
2. Cow and cat yoga poses
This is a very common yoga pose that is in many beginner classes. You can easily do this at home, or if you don't mind getting on the floor of your office, it can be done at work too! The specific reason that this helps with back pain is that it aligns your spine and helps to improve the extension and flexion in your back. To begin you start on all fours, which is why I mentioned it may not be suited to the traditional office environment! From here you switch between arching your back like a cat for cat pose and after two breaths and then to cow pose where you lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling. Repeat this a few times and you will feel the difference in no time.
3. Back of the leg stretch
This is for those of us that don't sit properly at our desks during the day, something I am guilty of too! This can over time reduce the ability of your body to circulate the blood to your legs properly, which is why a stretch like this is important on a day to day basis. It can cause a numbing sensation and pins and needles when you go to stand up if the circulation to your legs is poor. This is another exercise you can do while seated, so I find it easy to fit into my day whenever I feel my legs cramping or getting numb. While you are sitting, extend your legs out in front of you and reach down towards your toes. You can hold this for as long as is comfortable. I usually try to make it to 20 counts and then a release for 5 seconds and repeat 5 to 10 times.
4. Wrist stretch
Spending all day typing can harm your wrists. I tend to feel they get sore by the end of the day and the following stretch has helped me to reduce the stress on my wrists and keep the blood flowing so my workday is that little bit more comfortable, especially by the time I get home. I usually repeat this every hour to get a good stretch in my wrists and give them a well-deserved break from the daily task of typing. You can do this exercise seated, but to give my legs a bit of a break too I usually stand. Stand up and place your wrists on the desk so that they face away from your body. From here you should apply pressure until you feel the stretch. Hold here for 10 counts and then lift your hands from the desk and follow up with some wrist circles.
5. Single leg squat
Again, this is a great stretch for all of us who sit at a desk all day! I usually try to perform this stretch once or twice a day. It gets the blood flowing in my legs and reduces the chance of numbness and pins and needles while seated all day. It can easily be done standing just behind your desk as long as you have a small space where you can fully extend your legs. Start by standing on one leg as tall as you can. Keep your other leg extended out in front of you. Slowly lower your body into a seated squat position. Hold this for as long as you can before returning to a standing position. I try to do this 5 times on each leg during one rep.
Taking the time out several times a day, for a few minutes at a time, can help to reduce the pain and soreness that you get in your joints and muscles, especially when you are seated for long periods. I can honestly say that since I have started stretching during the day I feel so much more relaxed when I get home. It also helps to reduce the stiffness when I am ready to go home at the end of the day. Unfortunately, we are not meant to sit for long periods as is generally required at most office jobs. It can impact circulation and cause tightness in the muscles, but with these stretches, you can combat this negative impact that long periods at a desk can have on your body!