I have created a template of 10 exercises, also known in my Osteopathic practices as ‘deskercise’ that you can quite literally do while sitting at your desk. Done daily these exercises are designed to help reduce the build up of tight joints and muscles with the added benefit of helping to achieve a good posture with effective spinal alignment. Many of my patients have benefited by doing these simple but effective exercises.
1) Neck rotations:
Use this exercise to begin the process of unwinding your spinal tension.
Keeping your chin level begin by taking a breath in and then start turning your head to your left side, breathing out as you do so. Pause as you reach a gentle full stretch and hold for up to 7 seconds. Inhale as you return to the centre and then turn to your right once again breathing out as you reach your full stretch. Repeat 3 times each side.
2) Seated Spinal Rotation:
Use this exercise to gently stretch out your whole spine.
Whilst seated place your hands on opposite shoulders, your arms crossing over your chest. Begin by turning your head to look over your left shoulder, as you feel a gentle stretch then turn your upper body and shoulders to the same side as you exhale. Pause momentarily when you feel your whole spine stretch and then repeat to your right side. Repeat 3 times to each side.
3) Shoulder Posture Shrugs:
Use this exercise to help release neck and shoulder tension.
With your hands resting on your thighs lift your shoulders up and back whilst trying to keep your neck muscles relaxed. Hold momentarily at the top then whilst breathing out lower the shoulders. Pause and relax. Repeat 3 times.
4) Trapezius Stretch
This exercise will help free both your neck and shoulders since the trapezius muscle attaches to the base of your skull.
Begin by resting your right hand, palm uppermost, under your right thigh. Then tuck your chin back as if you are trying to create a double chin. Then slowly tilt your left ear towards your left shoulder. Exhale as you tilt your head and hold the end stretch for up to 7 seconds. It is important that you maintain your chin tuck as you tilt your head. This should be a gentle stretch. Do not pull your neck when doing this exercise. Repeat 3 times each side.
5) Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Use this exercise as part of freeing up your shoulders.
Begin by taking your left shoulder across your chest and support it either with your right hand or in your bent right elbow as per diagram. You should begin to feel a stretch to your shoulder and back of your upper arm. (Triceps muscle) Whilst exhaling you can pull your elbow into your chest to create a comfortable stretch. Hold the final stretch for 7 seconds and then repeat to the other side. Repeat 3 times to each side.
6) Shoulder Extension 1
Use this exercise to help release both anterior deltoid and pectoral muscle tension.
Take your hands behind you and try not to let your chest fall forward. Instead focus on keeping your chest up and your head level throughout the exercise. You should feel a gentle stretch as you attempt to lengthen your arms and gently lift your clasped hands to increase the stretch. Do not bounce your hands up and down, simply hold a comfortable stretch for 7 seconds whilst exhaling. Repeat 3 times.
7) Shoulder Extension 2
This exercise helps to release your shoulder blades (scapulae) and lengthen your neck and upper back.
To begin this exercise make sure you are seated correctly with your lower back supported in your chair. Link your hands together and take a deep breath in. Then as you slowly exhale raise both hands towards the ceiling, palms facing upward. You should try to imagine you are making your arms longer as you reach above your head. Focus on preventing your lower back from arching forward as you stretch. Hold for up to 7 seconds and then slowly return to the start position. Repeat 3 times.
8) Seated Hip Stretch
Use this exercise to release glut and hip tension.
Begin this exercise sitting with your lower back in a neutral position, which is neither arched forward nor slumped backward. Relax your upper back and shoulders also. Begin by lifting your left knee and then place your hands either behind or in front of your knee, then gently pull your knee towards your chest in a hugging motion. Hold for up to 7 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position before repeating on the right side. Repeat 3 times each side.
9) Seated calf stretch
Use this exercise to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
Begin by sitting on the front edge of your chair. Extend your left leg out in front of you and focus on sitting in a neutral position. Inhale and then as you exhale tilt forward from your hips. You should feel a stretch in your upper and lower leg. Try to maintain a flat back as you lean forwards. You can place your hands on your opposite knee to support your lower back if you wish to. Hold the end stretch position for up to 7 seconds. Do not bounce. Repeat 3 times for each side.
10) Seated Lower back Stretch
Use this exercise to help release your lower back muscle and joint tension.
Begin by sitting on the front edge of your chair, your spine in a neutral position, with the soles of your feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart. Your knees should be no more than 90 degrees flexed and your hips should not be lower than your knees. Then inhale and as you exhale slowly roll your spine down allowing your hands to drop towards or even onto the floor. You can relax in this pose for up to 7 seconds. Do not bounce. To return inhale and slowly return to your starting position. Repeat 3 times.
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Caution: As with all exercises you should firstly seek professional medical assessment to ensure that it is safe for you to do these exercises.