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Stretching at your Desk or Computer
By Brad Walker

If you're sitting for long periods of time behind a desk, computer or steering wheel the muscles in your shoulders, neck and upper back can really tighten up. The following information, and stretching exercises, will help you stay loose, supple and tension free.

Why is Stretching Important?
By placing particular parts of the body in certain positions, we are able to increase the length of our muscles. As a result of this, a reduction in general muscle tension is achieved and our normal range of movement is increased. The benefits of an extended range of movement includes: increased comfort; a greater ability to move freely; and a lessening of our susceptibility to muscle and tendon strain injuries.

Along with an extended range of movement, a regular stretching program will also help to improve posture; develop body awareness; improve co-ordination; promote circulation; increase energy; and improve relaxation and stress relief.

What else can you do?
Before we move onto the specific stretching exercises that will help you relieve pain and tension from sitting for long periods of time, let's have a look at some other techniques you can use.

  • Move around
    Get up and move around at least every hour. This will help to promote circulation and get the blood flowing to the muscles that need it most.

  • Drink plenty of water
    Water is an important component of just about every function that takes place within your body. It helps your body eliminate toxins and waste products; it helps to maintain proper muscle tone; it cushions joints; and it helps transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

  • Deep breathing
    Many people unconsciously hold their breath, which causes tension in our muscles. To avoid this, remember to breathe slowly and deeply throughout the day. This helps to relax our muscles, promotes blood flow and increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our muscles.

  • How to Stretch?
    To follow are a few rules and guidelines to help you get the most from your stretching and ensure you stay safe and injury free. If you're interested in a more detailed report, click on the following for an in-depth article on the rules for safe stretching..

    Firstly, make a general review of the area to be stretched. If the muscle group being stretched isn't 100% healthy avoid stretching this area altogether. For example, if you have a neck injury, don't do neck stretches.

    Secondly, do all your stretches gently and slowly, and avoid bouncing or any jerky movements. This will help to reduce muscle tears and strains that can be caused by rapid, jerky movements.

    And lastly, stretch ONLY to the point of tension. Stretching is not an activity that was meant to be painful; it should be pleasurable, relaxing and very beneficial. Although many people believe that to get the most from their stretching they need to be in constant pain. This is one of the greatest mistakes you can make when stretching.

    What to Stretch?

    Below are a few stretches that can be performed in a seated position that will help to relieve tension around the shoulders, neck and upper back. The following stretches should be held for about 15 to 20 seconds and then repeated 2 to 4 times.

    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Look forward while keeping your head up. Slowly move your ear towards your shoulder
    while keeping your hands behind your back.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Let your chin fall forward towards your chest. Relax your shoulders and keep your hands by your side.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Keep your shoulders still and your head up. Slowly rotate your chin towards your shoulder.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    While sitting on a chair, cross your arms over and hang on to the chair between your legs.
    Let your head fall forward and then lean backwards.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Interlock your fingers in front of your chest and then straighten your arms
    and turn the palms of your hands outwards.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Sit upright and interlock your fingers. Bend your arms and place
    them above your head while forcing your elbows and hands backwards.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Sit forward on your chair (or stand)
    and clasp your hands together behind your back. Slowly lift your hands upward.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Sit upright and place one arm across your body.
    Keep your arm parallel to the ground and pull your elbow towards your opposite shoulder.



    Sit with your arms crossed over and then raise them above your head.
    Reach up as far as you can.


    Stretching at your desk or computer
    Sit with your hand behind your neck and your elbow pointing upwards.
    Then use your other hand (or a rope or towel) to pull your elbow down.

    For an easy-to-use, quick reference guide of more than 100 clear photographs of every possible sports related stretch, for every major muscle group in your body, get a copy of The Stretching Handbook. If you're interested in stretches for the shoulders, neck and upper back, The Stretching Handbook has detailed photographs of 23 different stretches you can do. Learn more about The Stretching Handbook here.


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