As a freelance writer, I spend a lot of time at my desk. Too much time, usually. In fact, it isn’t all that uncommon for me to wake up around 5:00 AM, go straight to my desk and work almost nonstop until dinnertime. Without a doubt, this way of living has definitely taken its toll on my neck and back. What really surprised me was how much.
When speaking with Dr. Ernest Centofanti, Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician and owner of Centofanti Chiropractic Centers, I learned just how damaging my lifestyle was on my body. In fact, he explained that “sitting for long periods of time puts as much pressure on the discs in the lower back as standing with 200 pounds on your shoulders.” No wonder I feel exhausted at the end of the day!
…sitting for long periods of time puts as much pressure on the discs in the lower back as standing with 200 pounds on your shoulders.
To help combat this effect, there are certain stretches that Dr. Centofanti recommends that you (and I) do. The best part is that they can be done right at your desk, so you can slip them into your busy day quickly and easily. Here they are:
- Arm Rest Lift. This particular stretch helps decompress your spine from spending hours in the sitting position, and it also works to strengthen your core. To do it, grab the arm rests on your chair and push yourself up, straightening out your arms and pulling your knees up and off the floor. Stay in this position for about eight seconds before releasing.
- Head Push Back. This movement helps get rid of neck tension and pain, and can even sometimes get help you get rid of a headache. Simply put your hands behind your head, like you would if you were lying on the floor and ready to do a crunch. Then push your head back while resisting the push with your hands. Hold this for a few seconds and release.
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze. When you sit in front of the computer for long periods of time, your shoulders tend to round inward, putting you at risk of developing upper crossed syndrome. Upper crossed syndrome occurs when your chest muscles tighten and your shoulder and upper back muscles weaken, creating an imbalance that can lead to joint dysfunction and pain. To help combat this, squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you are trying to hold a pencil in between them. This will help release the muscles in your chest while putting your body back in a healthier position.
- Side Neck Stretch. If you find that you are constantly rubbing your neck to help ease the tension or get rid of the pins and needles feeling in the back of it, this move may help. Simply sit in your chair and use your right hand to gently pull the back of your head so that your right ear comes closer to your right shoulder. At the same time, hold the seat of the chair with your left hand in order to elongate the stretch. Hold this position for 8 to 10 seconds and then switch to the other side.
- Front Neck Stretch. To stretch the muscles in the front of your neck, take the fingers in your right hand and kind of hook them into your right collar bone. Slowly bend your neck to the back and left, extending your neck until you feel a good stretch in the front of it. Hold it for 8 to 10 seconds and then do the same thing on the other side.
In addition to doing these stretches, make sure you get up every so often and actually move around. Even if you just go to the bathroom, grab a coffee, or walk around the room, every little bit helps.
I will do these if you will. Who is with me?