Hunched Over Your Computer All Day? These Stretches Are For You

Quarantine has got me in a bit of a funk. I wake up feeling groggy and my body has been super tense, likely the result of too many days spent hunched over my laptop at my couch/desk. From what I can tell from our morning team Zoom meetings, R29 Canada’s Visuals Editor Yazmin Butcher definitely does not seem to be having the same problem. So, what's her secret? “When social distancing began, I found the tension in my body began to increase, so I decided to finally take the time for myself," she says. "Now, I stretch and do breathing exercises every morning. I can already feel a change."

“Stretching can act as an antidote to the positions and postures you’ve taken all day,” agrees Vancouver-based yoga teacher and massage therapist Anne Jones. By that, she means all of the sitting that we do and the negative health effects it has on our body.

Jones recommends stretching at the end of the day to release any built-up tension and to notice how your workday affects you mentally and physically. Toronto-based osteopath and celebrity body and posture expert Dr. Liza Egbogah prefers stretching throughout the day (holding each stretch for five breaths) every time you get up — whether it's to answer a call or go to the bathroom. “Stretching encourages movement and you don’t want to be static for too long."

If you don’t have time to stretch, even just taking a break from sitting to make a cup of tea, or getting up to mentally reset and shake it off every 30 minutes, can help. Stepping away from the computer or couch can chill you out and potentially boost your immunity, according to studies.

Because we’re stuck (mostly) inside for the foreseeable future, I asked Egbogah and Jones for five of their go-to stretching exercises that I promise I will be attempting first thing tomorrow morning.

Pec Stretch

What it helps: This stretch helps to release tight pectoral muscles (major muscles in the upper chest) and combat poor posture.

How to do it: Interlock your hands behind the back, keeping your arms straight while pulling your hands down towards the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Thoracic Extension

What it helps: Reduces hunching in the middle back and opens up the chest to alleviate neck and upper-back pain. This exercise will help correct a slouched forward posture.

How to do it: Clasp both hands behind your head and gently pull backward, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for five breaths.

Back Bend

What it helps: This exercise takes pressure off your spine and reduces lower-back pain.

How to do it: Stand with your feet together with your hands behind your hips for support. Look up to the ceiling and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly and gently bend backwards. 

Reclining Twist

What it helps: This exercise stretches the back, chest, and glutes.

How to do it: Start by laying on your back. Bring your right knee in towards your chest. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Extend your left arm out to the left, palm up, and slowly bring your right knee across your body towards the floor on the right. Your right knee does not need to touch the floor. Hold on each side for 30-60 seconds and repeat one to two times.

Eye Of The Needle

What it helps: Stretches glutes, and opens outer hips and low back.

How to it: Laying on your back, bend both knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, flex your foot and spread your toes. Reach through your legs and grab your left leg either behind the thigh or in front of the shin. Slowly draw your left knee towards your left shoulder until a stretch is felt deep in the hips. Hold for 60 seconds on each side.

from refinery29