How adopting a stretching routine at work will improve your outlook and performance.
We all know how important it is to stay active, both for our physical health and our mental state. Yet many of us spend five days a week set at our desks in front of screens, an unavoidable fact of life for many jobs in the digital age.
As workplaces become more flexible, with leaders understanding the benefits of a healthy workforce, many of us are getting pretty pro at the lunchtime dash or swim. But what else can we be doing in the four hours or so either side of this to stay energised and on top of our game?
In this article we discuss the benefits of adopting a desk stretching routine, and offer a few subtle exercises, that you can implement daily to keep your mind and body relaxed, readying yourself to better conquer your day and to-do list.
What are the benefits of stretching?
Don’t worry, we are not talking performing downward dog in the middle of the office here… we are talking about small subtle movements that you can do in your work space – but still come with a whole host of benefits. These benefits are not just applicable to running a marathon, even the lightest of toe wiggles can make a difference!
The first and most obvious benefit is the reduction in muscle tension. Stretching is all about getting loose right? Duh! But what if we told you that this extends to the mind too. Tension in your shoulders and neck, is a trigger for mental tension too. A moment taken to stretch your shoulders could be all it takes to break through a tense morning on the keys!
Secondly stretching increases blood flow. In a physical sense this is great for all you active folk out there, as the more you stretch at work the quicker your legs will recover from those morning hill sprints! But again, this benefit extends to the mind. Better circulation equals more oxygen to the brain, leading to a more powerful mind.
Thirdly, and most importantly for those of you who lean a bit too heavily on our afternoon coffee habit, stretching increases energy levels. This benefit stems from the positive endorphins released that provide a free and natural pick me up.
The final benefit is circular. Maintaining good posture at your desk is an ongoing battle for even the most avid pilates follower! Poor posture pulls your body about, applying stress and tension to different areas. By stretching, you help to improve posture. Tight muscles pull you into a slumpy mess. Stretch yourself out, particularly your back, and you will find yourself sitting taller for longer.
Great - let’s get to the stretch!
The concept of throwing in a few desk stretches is a no brainer… in theory. But lunging your way down the office hallway is probably best left to the exhibitionists among us!
You don’t have to be a yogi to reap the benefits of stretching. We are going to run you through a few simple, and importantly subtle, stretches that anyone can try in the office or at home for all you flexi-workers out there!
Stand up and sit down - no hands!
Or meerkating as we like to call it! Feel a bit weird popping up and down for no reason? No worries, just remember not to use your hands when you actually have a reason to get up - works just as well!
The Shoulder Shrug
This one is James Bond level subtlety! Simply sit up straight and raise your shoulders as high as you can towards your ears and back down again. This will help realise that pesky neck tension, and when timed well no one will ever notice!
Alternatively if you’re having a tough day and fancy a cuddle, but HR has been hot on that stuff lately, try the self-cuddle technique. Reach for each shoulder with opposing hands hold tight and take a deep breath or two, it just feels right!
Great name, you can chant it along while you try it - wrist twists, wrist twists… no? Ok. Well this is another easy one that stretches out your forearms and hands after pounding out a long email. Hold you hand out in front of you in a fist and rotate at the wrist.
Throw in a few jazz hands too if you want to free up your fingers. The best bit is, if you throw on a serious frown while doing it, your colleagues will be thinking, ‘Wow, now that’s what I call a hard worker!’
Now this one is getting a bit out there if subtlety is your need, but when you’ve got a tight back it really does the trick. Cross your right leg over left and hold the back of your chair with your left arm. Twist around from right to left as far as your back allows and repeat the other way round.
Finally back to a more subtle approach. For this one to feel full value it’s best to slip off your shoes for a moment if you can bear to flirt with what some deem, the ultimate office faux pas!
Holding your desk with your hands stretch your legs out underneath, pointing and flexing your toes to feel the stretch - an all time classic!
So there you have it, there’s now no reason not to try adding a few stretches into your day at work. You now know the benefits and are armed with a few subtle techniques to put into action. Time to get loose!
Think everyone in your office needs to incorporate some stretching into their day? Contact us today to arrange a 30 minute stretching workshop to kick start your journey or a series of mindful movement classes across the next six weeks.