Incredibly, 86 per cent of American workers spend their working day sat motionless at a desk. Is it any surprise, then, that many of us wake up every morning with stiff necks, shoulders, and backs? For many desk workers, pain in these areas is just a simple fact of life that we begrudgingly learn to live with.
However, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. With the addition of a few simple stretches into your morning routine, it’s possible to banish back and neck pain forever. Who knew? The key with these stretches is to practice them as regularly as you can manage. Many of them can even be performed while you’re sitting at your desk at work, so there’s no excuse not to give them a go. Go on. You know you want to.
One of the simplest stretches you can incorporate into your routine is the knee tuck. It’s so simple, in fact, that you don’t even need to leave your bed to do it. Simply lie on your back, and hug your knees up towards your chest. While here, rock from side to side, or try making small circles with your knees. You should slowly start to feel your back relax, and pain subside.
Another simple stretch to try is the seated twist. Simply place one arm behind you and follow it with your head, until you feel a gentle stretch in your back. You can even give this one a try while you’re sitting at your desk, for a nice little release of tension throughout the day.
The cat cow pose is a yoga classic, but you don’t have to be a fully fledged yogi to reap the benefits. All you need to do is get down on your hands and knees, and flex your back up and down. Make sure your knees and hips are aligned, and remember to move your head in time with the movement.
Got stiff shoulders? Don’t worry, a good shoulder stretch should help ease some of that tension. This one can be done at any time of the day, but is especially good in the morning when you’ve just woken up. All you need to do is stretch one arm over your chest, and use the other arm to help steady the stretch. Go on, there’s no reason you can’t give it a try right this second.
Another good way to counteract stiff shoulders is by practising a corner stretch. Stand at the corner of a wall, with one hand on each wall. Press your torso into the wall, thereby giving your back and shoulders a tension-releasing stretch. When you’ve been sitting hunched over a desk all day, this one can be a life saver.
Hopefully, by repeating these stretches throughout the day, and especially in the morning, you should be on the road to a pain free life in no time. Of course, if your pain is severe or annoyingly persistent, feel free to visit your doctor, who will be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
In the meantime, perhaps a visit to your local yoga class might help get your body moving in the way it should. Humans aren’t designed to remain sitting all day every day, so make sure you’re having a break from your desk every half an hour or so.
Oh, and if you’ve been eating your lunch at your desk, stop that right now. Why not take the time to spend a few minutes outside in the fresh air and actually enjoy what you’re eating? Not only will your back and neck thank you, but your brain will feel rebooted and ready to power through the afternoon.
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