Stay Mobile Using Yoga Stretches at the Office

Yoga Stretches for Your Hands, Wrists, and Arms

Hanna Kim - September 30, 2019

Staying Mobile at the Office
Yoga and Stretches for Your Hands, Wrists, and Arms

The Dangers of Sitting Too Much at Work

A desk job might seem relaxing and easy on our bodies, but a day filled with little to no movement can come with its own pitfalls. There are some serious consequences of inactivity, which the scientific community has coined “Sitting Disease.” A sedentary lifestyle leads to muscle and joint pain, brings a higher likelihood of weight gain, and decreases immune function and heart health. Adding just 30 minutes of movement each day greatly lowers the risks of many health issues and helps us feel better.

Benefits of A Daily Stretching Routine

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends we “Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.” 

Between work, chores, errands, and everything else we must do, it can seem hard to find the time to exercise. You can start by making time for yourself to get up and moving during the workday. Instead of sitting for an entire hour-long lunch break, try using half the time to stretch away bad posture. Instead of taking a smoke break, grab a co-worker and go on a quick stroll.

Many of us need to use computers at our desks for a large part of our work, meaning we're sitting with our arms reaching out to our keyboards and mice for far too many hours at a time. Our bodies are designed for a variety of movements and keeping them locked in one position leads to tension, in this case, often felt in our neck and shoulders.

A little extra love and attention to this part of your body can go a long way. Prevent injuries like carpal tunnel, joint stiffness, shoulder tension by taking a few minutes a day to stretch. Working to maintain mobility regularly now means healthier, pain-free joints and muscles through your old age.

“Good pain” vs “bad pain”

Pain is something many of us generally want to avoid, but it can serve a useful purpose when we are navigating physical movements and treatments for our bodies.

‘Good pain’ is a bit of a misnomer -- you might use the term to describe the sensation when a therapeutic massage therapist works into a deeply embedded knot, or in response how your muscles feel as they relax into a stretch.
Bad pain is our nervous system indicating to us that we should stop doing something affecting us negatively.  “Good pain” can go bad if we reach a point where we’re working against our bodies instead of working with it. 

If we feel chronic shoulder tension from spending 8 or more hours a day in a sedentary position, we should take a break and get moving. If we are in a stretch that is too deep, we should back off and go lighter, instead of creating more pain. 

As you try these finger yoga stretches, you don’t want to be in a pain so intense that you are further tensing up your muscles or constricting your breath. Instead, you want the intensity to feel like a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10. You can slowly increase the depth of your stretches as your muscles and breath allow.

Upper Back Tension Release

This stretch targets your upper and mid-back and chest. Following these steps will help open up your chest and help your upper back feel less stiff.

Start with your arms extended outwards to a “T.” Feel the stretch in your arms and all the way down to the tips of your fingers. Try slowly rotating your arm back so the tip of your thumb is facing the back of the room, and forwards so your thumb points forwards. 

Next, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds before stretching your arms outwards again. These shoulder blade contractions help undo some of the tension you feel from having your arms out in front of you, which caves your chest muscles in and over-stretches your upper back muscles.

Repeat these movements 10 times and remember to breathe!

Forearm and Wrist Stretches at Your Desk

If your work clothes are too stiff or not the right cut to do these movements in a table-top position (where you’re on the floor on all fours with your wrists below your shoulders, and knees under your hips), you can still do this stretch for your wrists using a desk or wall for leverage.

Place your palms down on the desk with your fingers facing towards you. Your hands and arms should be stacked directly under your shoulders to start. Slowly pull your body away, keeping your hands glued to the desk so that you stretch the undersides of your arms (forearm flexors) and wrists. Slowly glide yourself back and forward 5-10 times as you breathe evenly in and out.

Repeat with your hands flipped around so that your palms are now facing upwards.

Hand and Wrist Mobility

You can improve your hand and wrist mobility by adding a variety of movements throughout the day. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Extend your fingers outwards as far as they will stretch for a few seconds, then ball them into a tight fist.

Extend your wrist back and hold for a couple of seconds before flexing it forwards.
Roll your wrists in a circle one direction, and then the other. 

Repeat these movements as often as you’d like, especially if your fingers are prone to cramping up from activities like typing, mouse-clicking, or writing.

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