Taking small periodic breaks doesn't just allow you to have a mini-mental vacation from the constant reins of work, it's also an important opportunity to reduce built-up physical tension by stretching out your contracted and tensed body. Every 30 to 40 minutes your body needs to move, stretch and get out of any position that it's been stuck in.
Assuming that your working position is in the seated posture, the following stretches can be performed throughout the day, everyday, to keep your body happy and healthy. All stretches should be held for 15-30 seconds and performed 1-3 times, depending on the amount of time you have. Hold the stretch in a position in which you can feel the muscles comfortably stretch.
Basic Neck Stretches
Eyes To The Sky - Extend your head backwards while allowing your mouth to open. Allowing your mouth to open allows for a greater stretch to the muscles of the anterior neck. If you experience any balance problems, stretch the neck in the seated position only.
Ear To Shoulder - With your head centered over your shoulders, drop one ear to the same side shoulder. You should feel the opposite side of your neck stretch. You may increase the stretch by applying pressure to the top of the head with your hand. Repeat on the opposite side.
Chin To Chest - Drop your head forward while tucking your chin in towards your neck. Place one hand on the top of the head and gently apply added pressure if you wish to increase the stretch. This stretch affects the posterior cervical musculature.
Lateral Torso Stretch - While seated, grasp the lateral thigh or armrest of the chair with your opposite side arm and rotate your torso by pulling with the hand. Repeat to the opposite side.
Anterior Torso Stretch - In a seated or standing position with your hands interconnected place them behind your head and neck. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together and extend your back slightly.
Posterior Torso Stretch - In the seated position with your buttocks on the forward edge of the chair, spread your legs apart and lean your torso forward, between your legs. If your back and hamstring muscles are tight, you will feel them stretch during this movement.
These are just some of the many stretches which can and should be performed frequently.
Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485. www.communitychiropractic.net