by Carolyn Meers
While you’ve done your best to adjust to your new home office, your body might be resisting the new setup. Makeshift desks and chairs — we’re looking at you, kitchen table and barstools — are functional, but likely not ergonomically ideal. Plus, research has shown that tense body positions and poor posture held over time can contribute to headaches, back, neck and hip pain, decrease your flexibility and balance and even lead to heartburn and poor digestion.
But, there’s hope. These five easy stretches for people who sit all day can help relieve pent-up tension, strengthen posture-improving muscles and allow you to comfortably take on your daily to-dos — from video calls and colleague catch-ups to at-home workouts and meal-planning.
Easy Up-and-Back Neck Stretch
This can be done sitting or standing, and helps gently awaken muscles that have tensed while you look down at your computer screen or phone.
- Start with your head squarely over your shoulders and your back straight.
- Slowly lower your chin toward your chest and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Relax, and slowly lift your head back up.
- Next, tilt your chin up toward the ceiling and gently bring the base of your skull toward your back.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
You can repeat this set of up-and-back stretches several times per day.
Side Tilt Neck Stretch
This stretch is aimed at the supporting muscles on the sides of your neck, which are working hard (all day, every day) to keep your head upright. You’ll likely feel neck muscles respond to this stretch right away.
- Stand next to your desk with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Gently tilt your head toward your right shoulder and try to touch it with your ear. Stop when you feel the stretch. Do not raise your shoulder.
- Hold this stretch for 5 to 10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat on your left side.
You can do several sets and work up to 10 repetitions. For an extra stretch, place your hand on the same side of your tilted head, on the top of your head, and press very lightly with your fingertips.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Modeled after yoga’s Warrior One pose, this stretch can relieve tightness in hip flexors caused by sitting for long periods of time. (Tight hips can lead to lower back pain and knee pain, so this move is key.)
- Stand up from your chair and step your right foot forward and your left foot back.
- Open the feet wider than the hips, and bend the front knee while keeping the back leg straight.
- Turn the left toes so they face forward at a 45-degree angle. Place your hands on your hips or on your desk for balance, or reach them toward the sky.
- Pull in your abs and relax your shoulders. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then switch to perform on the other side.
Hip and Hamstring Stretch
Sitting can lead to underactive glutes, which often result in overactive, continually tense hamstrings that are more prone to injury. Help your hamstrings out with this deskside stretch.
- Standing with your feet together, place your right heel on the floor and flex your right foot toward you.
- As you do this, slowly lean forward from hips (hands can be on hips) until you feel a stretch in the back of your right leg. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Release and switch sides.
Upper Back and Arm Stretch
This overhead motion targets the latissimus dorsi, a large, triangularly shaped back muscle that helps stabilize your back while you extend your shoulders. This muscle is often engaged as you type and sit at a desk. It also helps you inhale and exhale with proper force.
- Sit or stand. Extend one arm overhead.
- Reach to the opposite side until you feel a stretch in your upper back.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
To boost the effectiveness of these at-home stretches — and treat yourself to some well-deserved TLC — add some FOCL Relief Cream to tense areas. Infused with cooling Menthol, Camphor Bark Oil and inflammation-reducing Arnica, this topical treatment is an easy addition to your working-from-home routine and will boost the muscle-soothing power of any stretch you incorporate into your day.
Looking for some additional support to help your mind and body stay centered through stressful, deadline-heavy days? Sub in a few FOCL CBD Drops for your morning (or afternoon) coffee break.
Carolyn Meers is an editor and copywriter based in Los Angeles. She has more than a decade of experience in the luxury lifestyle realm — specializing in health and wellness and home design — and has contributed to publications including CSQ, C Magazine, Robb Report, 805 Living and The Knot.