Quick And Easy Stretches To Do At Your Workstation
by Dr. Wendy Schauer, D.C., R.K.C. on April 12, 2012
In my last blog post I showed you what bad computer posture looked like and what it could lead to over time. I had a new patient in today who, unfortunately, was a perfect example of what I wrote about in that post. There was prolonged computer use with the shoulders and head forward that led to neck degeneration and a pinched nerve. The neurologist is hoping I will be able to restore some of the neck and upper back motion to reduce the pressure on the nerve.
If you have poor computer posture I am urging you to do at least one of these stretches during the day. The first picture is the pectoral/chest stretch that I recommend the most. You just bring your arms behind you and clasp your hands together. You then roll your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for a count of 20-30 then release. Do this stretch 3-5 times per day.
Sitting Chest Stretch
If your shoulders are too tight to bring your arms back then try this stretch in the corner or doorway. Lean into the corner or doorway and hold for a count of 20-30 and do it 3-5 times per day. You don’t want to lean in too far and over stretch your shoulders or chest muscles. Farther is not always better. I have had a couple of people strain their chest muscles and think they were having a heart attack. Slow and steady wins the posture race.
My favorite exercise to give is to WIGGLE. Yes, you read this right. Wiggle, but in a very specific way. Start by making sure you are sitting upright then roll your shoulders backward and down in a circular motion. Once you can get both shoulders rolling around then you will do one at a time. Left, right, left, right quickly. Now you are wiggling. It is like a massage to your spine. Most of my patients will sit for hours without moving and wiggling 20 seconds every hour will put motion in the shoulders and upper back.
The last quick exercise I give is a stability exercise for the upper back. You will need a wall for this one. Stand with your back to a wall with your head, shoulders, rear end and heels touching the wall. Now bring your arms up like a goal post. You want to be able to touch your wrists to the wall. If your shoulders are really slumped foward your ams may be off the wall a ways. Don’t force them back or you will strain your shoulders. Just do the exercise where they are. You are going to try to squeeze your elbows to your back pockets. You should feel the muscles in your upper and middle back tensing. Do this exercise three times per day.
Position #1 Of Wall Exercise
Position #2 Of Wall Exercise
I recommend that you do some sort of movement every hour. The time when I stretch is when I am reading a document, that way my hands are free and can I stretch away. My job puts me in a hunched over posture so I do pectoral stretches 5-10 times per day.