Feeling stiff after a long day online? Whether you’re working from home, or finishing up a day at the office, getting into a stretching routine after spending eight or more hours staring at a screen has multiple benefits.
But if you don’t have a post-work stretching routine, what should you be doing, and what exactly are those benefits?
The short answer is yes, you should absolutely spend time stretching after a long workday on your computer. Hours spent online tend to encourage poor posture, no matter how active you might be.
Rounded shoulders and a forward “text neck” are commonly seen in people who work long hours in front of computers. These tendencies are known for leading to tight head, neck, and shoulder muscles.
Prolonged sitting also tends to tighten the hip flexors (on the front of your hips) and at times your psoas (the large muscle that connects your lower body to your upper body).
Liforme Original Yoga Mat
Stretch out on a yoga mat.
It’s no secret that stretching is a great reliever for both muscle tension and increasing your range of motion and overall circulation. Research shows that stretching for even 30 seconds per day can help increase the range of motion of the muscle group being stretched.
The goal of stretching after work on a daily basis is to increase your range of motion over time and to change your posture so you begin to more readily self-correct when you find yourself in a slouched position throughout the day.
Stretching also helps promote overall stress relief. Similar to a full-blown exercise routine, stretching with prolonged holds and breath turns on the parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest system) which helps the brain and body to slow down, and process thoughts more clearly.
If you’re looking to start an after-work stretching routine, there are a few movements you can try for yourself. These stretches relieve the tension built up after a long work day and are designed to open your chest and hip flexors as well as relieve head and neck stress. All you will need for these at-home stretches is a yoga mat and a yoga block or a fluffy pillow.
The puppy pose opens your chest, and shoulders and stretches your low back.
Find a four-point kneel on your mat. Widen your knees and send your heels together. Begin to inch your palms forward and allow your hips to go high as you work to slowly flatten your chest towards the floor.
For more of an advanced stretch through your head and neck look forward. Otherwise, plant your forehead on the floor.
Breathe deeply for at least 30 seconds.
Child’s Pose with Banana Arms stretches your side body and back as well as lengthens your psoas (the large muscle that connects your upper body to your lower body) from side to side.
Send your hips back towards your heels and plant your palms on the floor in front of you. Take a deep breath in. On your exhale, reach your arms towards the right side of your mat with your left palm on top of your left palm to stretch through the left side body. Stay here for at least 30 seconds, breathe deeply, and reverse.
Neck Release with Tucked Toes targets the side of your neck and the front side of your chest as well as opens the soles of your feet. If sitting with tucked toes feels too intense, this stretch can easily be completed with untucked toes.
Sit up on your heels pull your knees together and tuck your toes under (all five if you can). Reach your right arm over the left side of your face and slowly pull your right ear towards your right shoulder to stretch your left neck side. To increase the stretch, slowly look towards your right armpit.
Stay here for at least 30 seconds, breathe deeply, and reverse.
Supported Bridge Pose opens your hip flexors and softens your chest and ribs.
Lay on your back and prop your yoga block (on the second level) or fluffy pillow underneath of your hips. If this feels like a stretch for the front of your hips stay here. To intensify the stretch extend your legs straight (without locking them out).
Stay here for at least 30 seconds. Breathe deeply.
Stretching after work is almost as important as a morning routine. It can be an easy way to reset your day, your body, and your nervous system in as little as a few minutes.