By Alanna Zabel
Even if you do not work in an office, you most likely spend time sitting in front of a computer – and possibly slouch every now and then? These repetitive patterns can tighten your hip flexor tendons, weaken your lower back and poorly affect neck and shoulder alignment. The following five stretches are a great way to minimize muscle tightness from sitting in a chair for long periods of time. Remember, sitting with good posture is one of the most effective ways to work your abdominal muscles (isometric), so take advantage of this great ab workout at work.
Low Back Release: Sitting in your office chair, make sure you have a few feet of room in front of you. With your feet on the ground, parallel and hip-distance apart, bring your hands to the front of your knees.
a) Arch your back for length, lifting your chest towards the ceiling (hold for 3-5 breaths), then
b) fold over your legs, reaching your hands towards your feet with your head dropping towards the floor. Hold another 5-8 deep breaths here.
*If you have any herniated discs, forward bending is contraindicated. If this is the case for you, stay with the first portion of this exercise (a) for 5-8 breaths.
Wrist Relief: In a seated position, with your feet on the ground, parallel and hip-distance apart, hold your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Bring your hands together and interlace your fingers, then turn your hands “inside out” away from you. Hold for 5-8 deep breaths.
Chest Opener: Still seated, grab the outside edges of your chair (with palms facing in towards your body). Lean forward, pushing your chest out and up, possibly straightening your elbows. Hold for 5-8 deep breaths.
Seated Pigeon: Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, two or three inches above the left knee. Keep your right foot flexed throughout this exercise/stretch. Use your right hand to brace your right knee and your left hand to hold your right foot. Lengthen and arch your back, pulling your chest forward until you feel a stretch in your back, glutes and thighs. Hold for 8-10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Quad Stretch: Sit on the edge of an armless chair or bench so that your right hamstring and right glute are on the left side of the chair, and your left glute is 1/2 of the way off the chair. Once your body is stable in that position (you may need to hold your desk in front of you), bring your left foot behind you so that the top of it is pressing toward the floor. Push your left hip forward and lift your chest (more advanced, reach your left arm over your head). Hold for 8-10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
About Alanna Zabel:
Alanna Zabel is the founder of AZIAM Yoga. Voted “Best Yoga Instructor in LA” by Los Angeles Family Magazine in 2011, Alanna is a certified yoga, fitness, Pilates and dance instructor who is passionate about teaching holistic and organic wellness.
Alanna focuses all of her work on the personal Self realization of those she is working with. She enjoys leading yoga retreats nationally and internationally, including her Detox Yoga, Surf & Yoga and Seva (service) Retreats.
Alanna is the author of As I Am: Where Spirituality Meets Reality which incorporates a 21-day program called The Dharma Zone. It is intended to help readers find their true self and purpose while minimizing outside distractions. To compliment her program, Alanna has recorded twenty-one meditations to coincide with each day of her program. The AM Meditations set is available on CD and by download on iTunes, Amazon and iAmplify.
With a flare for style, Alanna is the owner and designer for the premium lifestyle brand, AZIAM Active Wear. Beyond her accomplishments as an instructor, performer, program director, writer, and designer, Alanna is a creative force and a teacher with a passion for organic living. She has been featured in Self, Fitness, People, InStyle, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Details, C – California Lifestyle and Yoga Fit magazines, as well as having been featured in several yoga/fitness productions.