By Hanna Kim - Updated June 21, 2019
One of the most common complaints massage therapists get from office workers is about back pain. Working at a desk for long periods of time creates a lot of bodily tension that many of us often let go unnoticed until the pain is intolerable. Spending all day sitting in one position has consequences for our bodies, especially when we get tired and don’t use proper posture. See if these sensations sound similar to what's going on in your body:
It can feel impossible to get a full workout into your daily schedule when your day is already filled with meetings, phone calls, and deadlines. An easier place to start is to add a little movement to your day with this small yoga-based stretch sequence. These stretches are easy to do in your cubicle space without even having to change into your gym clothes.
You might find over time that you really enjoy these little stretch breaks, and your body begins to crave additional movement. Notice a boost of energy - when you get up and get moving, your body delivers fresh oxygen into your bloodstream. Breaking up the workday with movement helps you feel less stiff and helps prevent chronic pain from setting in.
Find Your Breath to Relieve Stress
On days that are especially hectic, you may not notice you are not utilizing your full lung capacity when you breathe. Stress can make our breath weak and shallow. A simple and effective way to relieve some stress is to take a few minutes to find a full breath and reset our nervous system.
With your shoulders rolled down and in line with your hips, place your hands on your upper thighs. Having your palms face downward can help you feel more grounded. Exhale all the stale air out through your mouth and take a deep breath in through your nose as you count to 5. Exhale through your nose as you count to 5 and repeat this cycle of steady breathing at least 3 more times. Notice a new sense of calmness.
Crescent Moon Side-Bend
This pose can be done sitting or standing in order to stretch your obliques (side abs) and lengthen your spine. With shoulders stacked over hips (and over knees and feet if you’re standing), raise your arms up over your head and press your palms into each other. Keep a straight spine as you aim your hands to the upper right corner of the ceiling and take 5 deep breaths in and out. Try tilting your view up and down to give your neck a gentle stretch as well. Return your body to center to neutralize before stretching out your left side.
L-Shape Pose for Lat Muscle Engagement
The “lats” or lateralis muscle is a large sheet muscle that helps stabilize your torso. Stand up and stack your hips over your feet with a slight bend in your knees. Stand a few feet away from your desk, enough to create an “L” shape with your body with a bend at your hips. Lightly grab onto your desk. On a slow inhale, release all tension in your body and feel a slight stretch. As you slowly exhale, slide your scapulae, or shoulder blades down your back. Repeat 5 more times.
Open Your Pecs with Upward Dog at the Desk
From the L Shape, press your fingers and palms firmly onto the top of your desk. With your core engaged (draw in the muscles right under your belly button to get into your deep transverse abdominals), press your hips away from the desk as you exhale. As you take a breath in, slowly straighten your legs and draw your hips towards your desk. Your head and chest will follow, coming forwards and up for a heart opening stretch in the upper part of your torso. Take a few more breaths in and out as you deepen into the pose.
Create Space in Your Hips and Shoulders
Get into "horse stance." Stand up with your feet very wide; your toes should be angled out further than your heels. Bend your knees as far as is comfortable to you. The deepest your knees should bend is so that they are over your heels - any further is not great on your joints. Bend at your hips and place each hand on your inner thighs and lightly press your legs outwards as you take a few breaths in and out.
To get a shoulder stretch in this position, take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly dip your right shoulder inwards, rotating your torso towards the left. Bring your torso back towards the center as you breathe in, and dip your shoulder in further as you exhale. Repeat on the left side.
Note: this pose may be more difficult to do in tighter materials, like denim.
Bring in a Professional to Demonstrate Desk Yoga for Employees
In addition to chair massage, LoDo Chair Massage can help you coordinate a licensed and educated yoga instructor to demonstrate desk yoga right at your office. A hands-on demonstration can be helpful for employees to properly position themselves to get the most benefits from poses. Call us at 888-673-2535 to schedule a class focusing on office pain relief today!
About The Author
Hanna is a copywriter at LoDo Chair Massage and is also a practicing massage therapist. She enjoys combining her passions for writing and wellness to share her knowledge with others.