Doing stretches at work may feel silly, but the benefits of taking a break from sitting at your desk (probably with your head tilted against a phone or hunched over a computer keyboard) can do wonders for your flexibility and help reduce back pain. Plus, there are plenty of lower and upper back stretches that you can do discreetly—not that we think anyone would think it is that weird, anyway.
From Your Desk: Lower and Upper Back Stretches
Before undertaking any sort of exercise regimen (including stretches), check with a health professional if you have serious pain or any reason to suspect that you may be suffering from a serious condition or injury. If over the course of engaging in the exercise, stop immediately if you are in pain. The amount of time you are able to hold a stretch will depend on your level of physical fitness and flexibility. Do not beat yourself up if you can’t hold a pose for very long yet—practice makes perfect!
Once you have gotten the okay from your licensed practitioner and you are ready to go, get started with these lower back stretches and upper back stretches.
Lower Back Stretches
Knees to Chest: While sitting firmly in your chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground, bring one of your knees to your chest with your hands bracing the limb on the back of your thigh. When you feel some light stretching in your lower back and upper buttock, hold the pose for twenty to thirty seconds. Then, repeat again with the other leg.
Piriformis stretch: Piriformis is a fancy word for the small muscle that connects your lower spine to your thigh bones. For this stretch, you will want to start off (like most of the stretches) sitting squarely in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Then, bring one of your ankles to the opposite knee—like you are crossing your legs—and then lean forward slightly until you feel a light stretch. Hold for twenty or thirty seconds if you are able to before switching to repeat the stretch with the other leg.
Lower back rotation: This is very similar to one of the upper back stretches that will be detailed later in this post. The key here to target your lower back is that after sitting squarely in your chair with your pelvis in a neutral position, you will hunch forward slightly before rotating to the right and holding for ten to twenty seconds, then to the left for ten to twenty seconds.
Upper Back Stretches
Thoracic rotation stretch: Most people do this type of stretch from the floor. But, with proper instruction, you can still reap all of the benefits when you partake in stretching from the comfort of your office chair. First, sit squarely with both of your feet flat on the floor. You need to get your pelvis into a neutral position and then, with both arms crossed across your chest, twist your spine as far as you comfortably can to one side and hold for ten to twenty, remembering to take deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Shoulder shrug: As you inhale deeply, shrug your shoulders as high as you can toward your ears and hold for a count. Then, exhale as you release. Repeat three to five times during each set of stretches.
Big hug: This stretch is basically exactly what it sounds like … Place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder, opening up the area between your shoulder blades. Remember to breathe deeply while you are doing this and hold that position for twenty to thirty seconds.
Hands behind your back: While sitting in your chair, place both hands behind your back and with palms touching, poke out your chest until you feel the light stretch in your upper back. Aim to hold this pose for approximately twenty seconds.
Lookup: Sitting up straight in your chair, with both feet planted flat on the ground, raise both arms over your head with your fingers interlocked. Turn your palms toward the ceiling and lift your chin to look in the same direction. Being careful to take breaths the entire time, hold this position for approximately ten to twenty seconds.
Schedule time for yourself
To get the most out of your stretches, try to do them at least once every hour during your work day. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you if needed. Your back will thank you!
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your back pain, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our experienced providers can suggest more pain relief options based on your condition and get you back on the road to feeling well.