Stretching at the Office

winter-is-coming:

Unfortunately, summer is over. Gone are the days of sipping cold drinks on a Cape Cod beach and walking around Castle Island without freezing your butt off. People keep talking about this thing “winter” and how it is “coming”.

This is the time a year where people put in the bulk of their hours at work and when their bosses ask the world of them.

mmk

While doing all this work in our chairs for over eight to ten hours a day, our muscles become imbalanced. Muscles such as the pectorals major and hip flexors become shortened and over active, while other muscles such as the lats and glutes become lengthened and underactive. It is of the utmost of importance that we get these overactive muscles to calm down and length and activate these weak, long muscles.

So besides going to the BAC and stretching there (you’re consistently going to the club, right?). I have a few suggestions of how you can make your workday a little more dynamic

  1. Get seven to eight hours of quality of sleep a night
    • Keep your room cool and completely black. Lights such as those on alarm clocks and televisions can distract our minds from focusing on recuperating from the day.
  2. Make sure you drink plenty of water.
    • Being hydrated throughout the day in key in maintaining high levels of energy as well as cognitive performance.
    • The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) recommends that men consume 125-130 oz. of water a day while women should consume 90-95 oz.
  3. Lastly, and most importantly, for every fifty to fifty-five minutes of work you do in an hour, take five minutes to either stretch, walk around, or simply get away from the computer screen.

Below are some stretches/ activation exercises that I spoke of earlier:

  •  Neck Stretches
    • Place one hand behind your back so it is touching the small of your back. Next, put your free hand on top of your head and pull your head toward the arm on top of your head.img_3097
      • Another variation of this stretch that targets more of the back of the neck, simply perform the directions indicated above, but tilt your head away from pulling arm.img_3098
      • This will help with imbalances in the neck specifically if you are always look one way as opposed to keep the head in a neutral position
  • Freedom stretch
    • Simply interlock your fingers as you put your hands behind your back as you reach your head and chest to the sky. This is a great way to stretch the muscles in the front of our body that are short.img_3096
  • Figure Four
    • Sit in your chair and cross one leg over the other so that the ankle of the crossing leg in just past the knee of the down leg. Place one hand on the up foot with the other on the up knee. Use the hand on the knee to apply pressure so that the up leg is at a ninety-degree angle with the opposing leg. To get a greater stretch keep the chest proud and lower the torso to the calf that is raised.img_3099
  • Sitting Thoracic Spine
    • Sit in your chair and place something on the ground such as a briefcase/ backpack or anything in your workspace that can aid you in reaching the ground. Place one hand on top of the implement with your other hand on the side. Next, reach the hand that is on the side of the implement and reach your hand to the sky. As you move you hand, keep your gaze on your hand. To feel even more of a stretch rotate the hand so the thumb is facing from you.
    • This stretch is a great solution to people who are susceptible to upper-cross syndrome (anteriorly-rotate shoulder and a forward head lean).
  • Wrist Stretches (on desk)
    • Simply place your hands on your desk with the tops of the hands facing you. To apply more pressure to the stretch move your body forward.img_3102
    • This stretch can also be with the your fingers pointed towards your body or with your palms facing the you.
    • This is a good stretch to avoid carpal tunnel due to typing and sitting at a computer for hours on end.
  • Medial Hamstring
    • Put your chair on the setting that is lowest to the ground (a stationary chair is preferable). Next, place your foot on top of the chair with your toe point toward the ceiling with the knee fully locked out. In order to feel a greater stretch keep your chest nice and proud as your lower your torso toward your knee.img_3105
  •  Lateral Hamstring
    • Put your chair on the setting that is lowest to the ground (a stationary chair is preferable). Stand slightly behind and perpendicular to the chair. Swing the far leg onto the chair with the toe pointing toward the sky. If a greater stretch is needed, rotate the torso over the leg that is bent. For a maximum stretch keep the chest proud and lower the torso over the leg being stretched.img_3106
  •  Good Morning
    • Start in a standing position. Then bend the knees ever so slightly, getting into an athletic stance. Next, keep the chest proud and reach your butt to the wall while having no change in the knees. The further you reach back the greater the stretch.img_3107
  •  Warrior Trunk Rotation
    • This is an advanced trunk rotation stretch, so please proceed with caution. With knee bent in a staggered position, rotate the torso over the forward leg and place the elbow on the same as the front leg just inside the knee.img_3108
    • To make this a even harder stretch, place the far hand onto the small of your back.
  •  Hip Flexor Stretch
    • Put your chair on the setting that is lowest to the ground. Simply place one leg onto the chair with the other in a half kneeling position (Note: the back leg does not have to touch the ground, the purpose is to get a stretch that you are comfortable with). Next squeeze your glute of the back leg while simultaneously brining the same hip to neutral. If this is not enough of a stretch, try to reach your butt to your heel. It is of the utmost importance that you keep your torso tall and reaching for the ceiling.img_3110
    • It is crucial to stretch the hip flexors for they are always locked in short positions when seated (AKA hip flexion). Staying in hip flexion for prolonged periods of time makes it hand for the hips to fully extend and can cause compensations when you walk or lifts weights.
  •  Glute Bridge
    • Lay on the floor with you knees bent and your heels close to your glutes. With your toes off the ground, drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. Bring you hips with you as contract the glutes, making a straight line from the knees, hip flexors and torso.img_3111
    • In order to make this exercise more challenging, simply remove one foot from the ground.
    • This is a great exercise to get the glutes activated, especially when you are in a static posture such as sitting in a chair for extended periods of time.

The stretches/ activation exercises described above should only take between five to ten minutes to perform, depending on how tight you feel/ how long you wish to stretch. I would suggest performing this routine about two times a day, once just before your lunch break, and once just before leaving work (you’ll most likely be driving home anyways).

By, Brandon Drinan

 

 

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