The 9 to 5 life can be incredibly rewarding and challenging when it comes to crushing your professional goals. However, if you work in an office, your daily duties can also wreak havoc on your body and your physical fitness goals if you’re not mindful. What’s the major culprit? It’s the amount of time spent in a seated position throughout the day. Our bodies aren’t meant to be kept in a seated position for extended periods of time, so we begin to develop poor posture and tight muscles as a result. Simple hacks like the following exercises can help you combat and even reverse common setbacks like tight hips and limited flexibility.
1. Forward Bend
Constantly bogged down by a sore back? Us too. One of the best ways to stretch out your back and shoulders involves one of the simplest stretches: the forward bend. This exercise helps relieve lower back pain related to tight hips and tired shoulders. Standing with a hip-distance stance, squeeze your glutes and dig your heels in. Once your stance is in place, relax your upper body and roll down to the ground in a forward bend. To turn off your shoulders, relax your neck and lightly tuck your chin under. Take several deep breaths in, and let gravity take its course. For an added stretch, wrap your arms around your knees, breathe in, and pull against your lower body while trying to stand.
2. Wall-Assisted Runner’s Lunge
Sitting down causes our hip flexor muscles to lose flexibility in our standing position, which can lead to back pain and exercise-related injuries at the gym later. To reverse the shortening of these muscles, it’s important to give them a counter stretch. To get into this stretch, face away from a wall in a kneeling position like you’re about to take off for a race. As you slowly walk your hands up your front leg, raise your arm on the side of the leg that’s in back, allowing that entire side to relax, getting a deep stretch through your hip flexor. For a deeper stretch, place your back foot up the wall and your knee on the ground, and once upright, rotate a quarter turn toward the hip that’s being stretched for full elongation of your hip flexor.
3. Eye Strain Release
Our eyes involve lots of muscles too, and since it’s one of our most important senses, it’s important to make sure they’re exercised properly. This particular exercise is one you can perform at your desk throughout the day. To relieve tension in your eyes from looking at a computer, take 20 seconds out of your power work push to turn your gaze to something in the distance. Adding this exercise in every 30 minutes will keep you from feeling major eye fatigue at the end of the day, and help preserve your eyesight in the long run.
4. Bar Hang
Whether it’s commuting to work with a heavy bag or looking at a computer for eight consecutive hours, our spines take a serious beating! One of the best ways to relieve tension and weight on our spines is by letting your body hang freely, letting our muscles from our shoulders to our hips stretch out completely. This particular exercise helps decompress spinal discs, realign shoulders and even helps us look and feel taller due to proper posture! Here’s how: On a pull-up bar or stall bar, relax your shoulders and begin to relax your back one vertebrae at a time, all the way to your hips. It’s recommended to hang for 1 to 2 minutes, however, if you’re just starting out, try a 30-second round instead.
Since seated positions and our forward-moving lifestyle cause the muscles on the front side of our body to get tight, like our chests and hips, it’s important to move them in the opposite direction to improve their flexibility and mobility. Bridges are an excellent way to hit all the right muscle groups and give your back some relief from poor posture while seated. Start by lying on your back on a yoga mat, placing your feet and hands flat on the ground to prepare yourself to press up into a bridge. Relax your neck and jawline as you press up and exhale into position, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
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