Sitting at a desk or computer terminal for extended periods of time can cause muscular tension and pain. Frequent short stretch breaks can reduce tension, head and muscle aches, and increase productivity and make work a more pleasant place to be. Take a short stretch break 30 minutes or so. And remember the 20/20 rule. Take your eyes off of your computer screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Focus on an object far from the computer screen.
Always begin a stretch from an aligned body position. Imagine there is an eye-bolt attached to the top of your skull and your body is hanging from it. Now relax. Breath rhythmically. Never hold your breath. Stretch slowly without bouncing. You should feel a slight, easy stretch. Hold this feeling for 5-20 seconds. The feeling of tension should diminish as you hold the stretch. If it doesn't, just ease off slightly into a more comfortable stretch. After holding the stretch for a few seconds, you can move a fraction of an inch farther into the stretch until you feel the mild tension again. Hold that stretch for 10-15 seconds. The feeling of stretch tension should diminish as you hold the stretch. (If the tension increases or becomes painful you are over-stretching. Ease off a bit to a more comfortable stretch.) Continuing to increase the stretch in small increments over time without pain will reduce tension and safely increase flexibility. Remember your flexibility will vary from day to day and stretch to stretch. Hold only stretch tensions that feel good to you. The key to stretching is to be relaxed while you concentrate on the area being stretched. Your breathing should be slow, deep and rhythmic. Don't worry about how far you can stretch. Stretch until you are relaxed. If you do these exercises regularly you should notice greater flexibility over time.
**Note: If you have had any recent surgery, muscle, or joint problem, please consult your personal health care professional before starting any stretching or exercise program.
Hand Relax: Separate and straighten your fingers until tension of a stretch is felt. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax, then bend your fingers at the knuckles and hold for ten seconds. Separate and straighten your fingers once more.
Face Massage: Raise you eyebrows and open your eyes as wide as possible. At the same time, open your mouth and stretch the muscles around your nose and chin and stick your tongue out. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds
Caution: If you hear clicking or popping noises when opening your mouth, check with your dentist before doing this stretch.
Shoulder Shrug: Raise the top of your shoulders to your ears until you feel slight tension in your neck and shoulders. Hold this feeling of tension for 3-5 seconds, and then relax your shoulders downward into their normal position. Repeat 2-3 times. Good to use at the first signs of tightness or tension in the shoulder and neck area.
Shoulder and Upper Back Stretch: With fingers interlaced behind head, keep elbows straight out to side with upper body in a good aligned position. Now pull your shoulder blades toward each other to create a feeling of tension through upper back and shoulder blades. Hold this feeling of mild tension for 8-10 seconds then relax. Repeat several times
Neck and Shoulder: Start with head in a comfortable, aligned position. Slowly tilt head to left side to stretch muscles on side of neck. Hold stretch for 10-20 seconds. Feel a good, even stretch. Do not over stretch. Then tilt head to right side and stretch. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each side.
Neck Stretch: From a stable, aligned sitting position turn your chin toward your left shoulder to create a stretch on the right side of your neck. Hold right stretch tensions for 10-20 seconds. Now turn your chin toward your right shoulder to mirror the last stretch. Repeat the sequence.