As I write this I am reminded how much I need these stretches! Most of us can’t live without at least some time on the computer and many of us have to be in front of them for the largest part of the work day. Unless you put your eyes in the back of your head there is no way to prevent the muscle shortening that happens when working on your computer. I don’t need to go into much detail, but most of you know the effects of poor posture and computer posture: neck pain, mid back pain, low back pain, headaches and many other wonderful issues. Bottom line: You have do something at least once/day to help lengthen the muscles that get tight and ‘beaten up’ from computer posture. Most of these stretches can be done right at your desk or office.
The following are my top 8 stretches to counteract computer posture:
(Remember to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and perform at least once/day)
1.) Trapezius/Neck Stretch
- How: Bring ear towards shoulder while tucking chin in.
- Why: The trapezius muscles get shortened from shoulder elevation and moving forward. When tight they can lead to neck, shoulder pain and tension headaches.
2.) Pectoral Stretch
- How: Grab a doorway, post, etc. Open chest and rotate away from arm.
- Why: The pectoral muscles get shorted from slouching and the shoulders moving forward. When tight they can lead to shoulder pain.
3.) Biceps Stretch
- How: Similar to the pectoral stretch, but keep arm straight at the elbow to emphasize the biceps.
- Why: The biceps muscles get shortened from the elbow being flexed during typing and moving your computer mouse. When tight they can lead to elbow pain.
4.) Abdominal Stretch
- How: Lying on a stability ball slowly bring your body back into spinal flexion. Exhale slowly as you hold the stretch.
- Why: The abdominals can get severely shortened from a rounded, slouching posture. When tight this puts stress on the spinal discs.
5.) Psoas Stretch
- How: Standing in a split stance, lunge slightly, tighten your glutes to tuck butt under and lift arm of stretch leg (back leg) overhead. You can add a lateral bend away to increase the stretch.
- Why: The Psoas muscle, like the abdominals, gets shortened from a slouched posture along with the fixed 90 degree angle of your trunk and leg when sitting. When tight it can put a lot of pressure on the spinal discs and lower back.
6.) Adductor/Inner Thigh Stretch
- How: Create a wide stance, lunge laterally bending the knee that is in the direction you are side lunging too. Keep the opposite leg straight.
- Why: The adductors, or inner thigh muscles, get chronically shortened when we sit. This can lead to internal rotation of your upper leg and possible knee or hip pain.
7.) Hamstrings Stretch
- How: Put one leg out in front of you and keep your knee straight, push your hips backwards while keeping your back straight to create stretch.
- Why: The Hamstrings muscles get shortened and tight from the fixed 90 degree angle at our knee when we are sitting. This can lead to over active hamstrings group and under active glutes. When this happens you are vulnerable to lower back pain, and many biomechanical issues when you walk and exercise such as ankle sprains and knee pain.
8.) Calf Stretch
- How: in a split stance, lunge towards a wall or post while keep the back leg straight and your heel flat.
- Why: The calf muscles get shortened and tight when we wear any type of heel. Yes, men’s shoes even have a heel. Also, many of us sit with our toes pointed and with our heel off the ground, further tightening the calf. This shortening can lead to ankle pain and major biomechanical issues when walking or exercising. These issues often lead to knee, hip, or lower back pain.