As office workers, we can do a lot of damage to our bodies by sitting down in the same position all day, every day. The chronic stress and tension we place on our muscles and joints during work hours can put strain on the lumbar spine which results in neck, shoulder and lower back pain. So, to help combat the pain, get up and moving throughout your day and try out some of these simple yoga exercises while at your desk.
1. The Seated Crescent Moon Pose
The seated crescent moon pose can assist with neck and shoulder discomfort that arises from hunching over a desk. By performing this pose you can clear your mind and create a better posture, where your spine is tall and straight. To begin, lift your arms over your head, interlock your fingers and stretch upwards. Lean to the right, taking 2 deep breaths, then return to the upwards position before leaning to the left to repeat the motion.
2. Neck stretch
Reach one arm over your head and slowly pull your head away from the other shoulder. Let the other shoulder drop down for a deeper stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
3. Chair Pigeon Pose
Performing the chair pigeon pose while seated at work can bring balance back to your hips and lower spine. To begin, place both feet flat on the floor whilst seated. Then, cross your right leg over the left at a 90-degree angle, keeping the foot flexed so as to not strain the knee. Maintain equal weight distribution while staying in an upright position. Hold for 5-10 breaths before switching sides. You should feel a gentle to moderate stretch in your outer thigh on the leg that is bent up.
4. Wrist and Finger Stretch
Working at a desk builds up tension in the muscles and tendons in your fingers, hands and wrists, so increasing blood flow in these areas is important. Try these two exercises every 2 hours, or whenever you start to feel tense. To begin, extend your arms out and draw 5-10 circles inwards and then outwards through the wrists. Next, quickly spread your fingers before closing into a fist, repeating this 5-10 times. This will release any excess tension.
5. Sit and Stand Chair Pose
Sitting down all day can mean that our glutes and hamstrings become underused and lose their motivation to help us stand up again. This means that we can start to rely on our upper back and even our neck to help us move back to a standing position. To begin, place your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, press down through your heels and push your body up into a standing position. Try to do this without using your arms. Once you’re standing, begin to slowly sit back down. Refrain from leaning forward or moving your hips out of alignment. Repeat this movement 5-10 times.
6. Quadriceps Stretch
Stand with your legs together, grab your right foot with your right hand and pull up into a bend against your hamstrings. Grab onto a chair or wall for support if needed and hold the position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Setting aside a few minutes during your work day or combining these exercises into your normal breaks can help to clear your mind, increase productivity and relieve your muscles from strain. If you’re looking to combine your work and activity levels even more, invest in a standing desk, so you can continue to work while being active.