Earlier this week, I described how I recently began to integrate Yoga Tune Up® stretching into my daily routines at work, at home, and on the road. Like many of you, I spend a lot of time sitting and using my cell phone and computer and I often feel the consequences of this in my hands and wrists, neck, and lower back, so I’ll focus my suggestions on these areas of the body.
Whenever I’m sitting for an extended period of time (which is too often), whether in the car, at my desk, or in a meeting, my back is the first thing to start hurting.
Until recently, I didn’t understand how connected the muscles of the side body are to the back. When our deep side-body muscles, especially the quadratus lumborum, are tight, the pain is often concentrated in the lower back.
A great quick-fix for this is Yoga Tune Up’s Boomerang Exercise, a stretch utilizing proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) that can be done practically anywhere there is a wall, pole, support beam, or something to lean against. PNF in a nutshell is when you actively contract a muscle while it is being stretched to “trick” the stretch receptors/sensors into relaxing further.
Wrists and Hands
This next stretch goes out to all of us humans who use our hands a lot… which is pretty much everyone. Whether it’s typing on a keyboard, holding a cell phone, gripping a steering wheel, playing an instrument, or any other use of our highly-mobile phalanges with their opposable thumbs, our tissues of our hands and forearm are often over-worked.
As a result, our wrists are often trapped in a vicious tug-of-war between the many muscles and connective tissues (fascia, tendons, etc) that bridge the gap between the lands of our forearms and hands. Try the Wrist Curl exercise here!
While the solution to this widespread problem is complicated and deserving of its own post entirely, for the purposes of something quick and effective you can do every day, I recommend taking frequent breaks from your hand-activities and practicing the stretches in the video below religiously.
If you’re in a place where you can’t get on your hands and knees to leverage your bodyweight, try these against your desktop or a wall.
Last but not least, the neck. Due largely to our screen-staring lifestyles, our necks are often cocked forward in positions where they carry the load of our 10+ pound human heads with compromised integrity. This overworks and shortens several of the muscles of the front side of the neck, including the small but mighty scalenes.
This exercise is great because it combines massage and stretching in a potent combo move and requires no floor or wall – just your own hands and neck!
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that these exercises are quick fixes are meant to undo the daily accumulation of tension that many of us face. They won’t, however, thoroughly address the underlying structural causes of chronic pain that many experience.
The long-term solution for musculoskeletal imbalances and the problems they cause is to spend extended periods of time practicing sequences that combine not only self-massage and stretching, but also strengthening and corrective exercise techniques to create a more stable and balanced foundation for our bodies. This is why Yoga Tune Up® classes, workshops, and retreats come in. Click here to find one near you!
YES. To this. Excellent videos and advice. I’ll be sharing this with colleagues during the Employee Assistance Program movement classes that I teach. Thank you.
This is one to show the boys and men in my family! This neck stretch is a little funny and might catch their attention. I see my husband at the computer and my kids on their phones all the time and I worry about their posture and their necks while I am not sure they see what I see. Thank you.
Thanks for a great relative article. I think these simple exercise can go a long way as quick fixes to small discomforts we face in our daily activities. And keep us from reaching towards more accumulated pain due to lack of attention to the areas of the body. It can also help identity if something doesn’t feel right in one or another area and address it before it gets worse. Great article.
Thank you Max for all the different tips on stretching! I especially love the wrist stretch and the boomerang, and since they can be done at home or at the office, I will be incorporating them into my daily breaks!
These are all great stretches. The boomerang especially seems to hit some very tight and ignored portions of my body. I also agree with your conclusion, that often to fix chronic discomfort or to truly change how you move throughout the day it takes more than a quick stretch but rather a long term plan that strengthens, stretches, and challenges the body. Moreover, it’s important to note that if your environment (your workplace your home your habits) is what got you in pain the first place then that has to change or else you just end up doing corrective exercise… Read more »
I think these are all great. I would love to do them since I sit for long hours at the computer for work. What I struggle with is actually taking the time to take a break and do something about it. It’s almost like I need to put time on my calendar to save the spot and then do it. Perhaps having a buddy / accountability partner or someone to do it with can help with reminding me. I think it’s the same as people knowing they need to exercise and eat healthy, but we make other choices. Even as… Read more »
These are really helpful exercises that my husband and I can easily fit into our schedules. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome tips that I can easily integrate into my 15 minute breaks at work – and who cares if my coworker is giving me a weird look while I streeeetch. Really loved the bonus link with the wrist curl – felt great on my wrist which has been a grumpy jerk since my TFCC ligament tear a year ago that never felt like it healed fully. Thank you!
I loved this article! Super practical exercises to share with desk bound folks. I do that anterior neck fascial stretch all the time, plus I add in the action of jaw elevation/depression to bring the masseter into the stretch as well!