5 Great At-Your-Desk Stretches
It usually strikes around 3:00 p.m.: Your shoulders get stiff and sore, your eyelids become heavy. All you want to do is curl up for a quick catnap. But instead you must deal with a phone that won't stop ringing, a relentless barrage of e-mails and whatever else has you stuck in front of a screen.
Trade the typical mid-afternoon pick-me-up of a candy bar or an iced latte for a little in-your-place stretching. It will shake off the late-afternoon blahs and keep you alert and limber for far longer than a caffeine or sugar buzz might.
These energizing stretches are adapted from yoga expert and relaxation consultant Darrin Zeer's Office Yoga and Office Spa. Most of them can be done whenever you have a minute or two — while you restart your computer or in between phone calls — so it doesn't mean squeezing another "to do" into your already-busy schedule.
Kick-back, log-on pose: While sitting at your desk, interlace your fingers behind your head. Relax your elbows and shoulders. Breathe and stretch your elbows back.
Keyboard calisthenics: Place hands in prayer position, move fingers in all directions and stretch. Squeeze fists tight. Then, stretch your fingers wide. Interlace your fingers and rotate hands.
Chair stretches: While sitting, interlace your fingers below your knee. Bend your leg up, and then stretch your forehead to your knee. Switch legs. Another stretch for your chair: Cross your left leg over your right. Place your right hand or elbow on the crossed knee. Gently turn your body to the left and look behind you. Switch legs, and twist the other way.
Lower back bend: Grab the edge of your desk or counter, and step back a couple of feet. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Let your upper body stretch down, relaxing your head and neck.
Perhaps the easiest and most important energizing move of all is to breathe. "With all of our stress, we're literally holding our breath all day," Zeer explains. "By taking a long, deep breath, you'll instantly relax your body and de-stress your mind. You can't beat that."