Stretching is an important activity to help ensure you stay healthy and flexible. Stretching while using a standing desk is even more helpful to make sure that you are maintaining and improving your flexibility and overall standing desk posture. Here are eight great standing desk stretches to get you started.
If you are using a stand up desk to target specifics benefits, such as reducing back pain or increasing blood flow, than stretching will significantly help this process.
Regularly moving your joints and muscles through a full range of motion multiple times per week can decrease the risk of injury, and having a regular schedule of stretching at your standing desk is smart way to improve your overall health. Here is a list of eight easy and beneficial stretches you can do everyday at your desk.
Standing Desk Stretches
1. Neck Roll/Circles
Stress and anxiety while working, especially at a computer, often lead to an aching neck. Poor posture also increases the risk of neck tightness and pain. This stretch relieves tension in your neck and surrounding muscles.
Relax your shoulders and let your head roll forward, chin to chest. Slowly rotate your head in a circle without straining your neck. Repeat five times.
Take a deep breathe. Then rotate in the opposite direction and repeat five times. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed to avoid raising them as you do this stretch.
Watch this video by Judi Bar from the Cleveland Clinic for proper neck roll form:
2. Shoulder Roll
Do this shoulder roll at least three times a day to relax your shoulders. You may do this one shoulder at a time, or both together.
While standing with legs shoulder width apart, lift your shoulders as high as you can. Bring them forward. Push them down. Pull your shoulders back, then return to starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat three to five times.
Your shoulders are one of the most flexible joints in your body when they are functioning smoothly and these shoulder stretches while standing will help.
If you watched Judi in the last video, here is her immediate follow up to a how to shoulder roll from the Cleveland Clinic:
3. Arm stretch
Stand with your feet spread shoulder width apart. Raise one arm, bend over sideways reaching over your head until your arm is parallel to the floor (or as far as you can). Hold for 10 seconds or longer if comfortable. Repeat with other arm. Repeat 3-5 times if possible.
4. Tarzan Stretch
This is a good way to open up your chest muscles after you have been sitting for a long period of time and are switching to standing up at your desk.
Interlace your fingers behind your back, palms facing in. Raise and straighten your arms behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and opening up your chest. Hold for ten seconds. Rest and repeat three to five times.
Amy from BodyFit by Amy has a great description of standing stretches, starting with the Arm Stretch and followed by Tarzan. Her quick standing stretch video here is an excellent tool:
5. Hamstring Stretch
When you sit throughout the day, your hamstrings and leg muscles can become tight if you don’t stretch them from time to time. Also, if you stand for longer periods without moving away from your desk they will tighten as well. The basic hamstring stretch is one of the easier standing desk stretches to do everyday.
From a standing position, extend one leg out in front of your other leg about l0 inches, lifting your toes and digging your heel into the ground. Bend the back leg slightly, and put both hands on the thigh of your back leg to support your weight. You should feel the stretch in the back of your front leg. Hold for 10 seconds. Now push the toes of the front leg down to the floor and hold for another 10 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
The hamstring stretch increases the flexibility in your hamstrings and you’ll want to make time to do this once or twice a day.
If you watched Amy’s video above, she also has a great description of the hamstring stretch
6. Hamstring Curls
When you sit a lot during the day, its a good idea to take a break every couple of hours to do this exercise. It will strengthen the hamstrings and build your standing desk endurance. Follow this up with the hamstring stretch above for best results.
Stand and hold on to your desk for support.
Slowly lift one heel toward your bottom, then lower. The knee of the supporting leg should be slightly bent during the exercise (not tight). Repeat 10 to 15 times on each side, depending on comfort.
7. Quadricep Stretch
This is the easiest and most beneficial stretch for the quadriceps muscles – the large muscle in the front of your leg above the knee. This hardly takes anytime at all while standing at a stand up or sit to stand desk, and will get easier if you do it daily and your flexibility increases.
Stand and hold your desk or chair for balance. Grab your left foot with your left hand (or grab your ankle if you cannot reach your foot). Pull your foot toward your bottom and hold for 10 to 15 seconds, depending on comfort. Your knee should point downward and not out to your side. Repeat on each leg two to three times. Try removing your hand from the desk as you hold the stretch to work on improving your balance.
This stretch is perfect to pair with the hamstring curls above.
8. Standing Pigeon Pose
The popular hip opening yoga stretch known as Pigeon Pose can also be done at your standing desk, and if you use a sit to stand converter on an existing desk you can get an even deeper stretch.
To execute a pigeon pose at your sit to stand converter bring your left shin onto your existing non-standing desk, with the bottom of your foot facing to the right and leg parallel to the desk while leaving your right leg firmly planted on the ground. Lean forward over your left leg into the stretch. Hold for 10, 30, or 60 seconds based on your comfort level. Repeat on the other side.
Pigeon pose is an excellent stretch to open up your hamstrings, loosen your back, and stretch the many tendons and muscles around your core. This is by far my favorite standing desk stretch. Here is another great video to help you do the standing pigeon pose at a standing desk correctly:
These are eight easy and helpful standing desk stretches you can get started implementing everyday, but there are many more. As you get comfortable and stronger at your desk you can certainly begin doing more difficult and complex stretches and exercise to increase flexibility, strength, and enhance the benefits of using your desk. You can also add a standing desk balance board or bosu ball for to make stretching and exercising at your desk more worth while.
If you are looking for more resources for standing exercises or stretches, here is a great kindle book I found on amazon while researching standing desk stretches on my own journey:
Here is a basic overview and some tips to stretching as you get better on your stretching journey .
TYPES OF STRETCHES
There are two types of stretches: static and ballistic.
Stretching when the position is held for a given amount of time, usually 15-30 seconds. This stretch is most effective after a warm up or standing for a bit.
Stretching that involves bouncing quickly to go deeper into a stretch or increase a muscles length and range of motion.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL STRETCHING
A successful stretch program should target all the major groups: neck, shoulders, chest, core, lower back, hips, legs and ankles. It should be designed with a goal to stretch at least 2 – 3 days per week, and can be done everyday ideally. Ensure you hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds, generally, and complete 2 – 4 repetitions per stretch.
STANDING DESK STRETCHES DO’S AND DON’TS
Avoid Pain Completely!
Do not continue to stretch if you feel any sudden, sharp or intense pain.
Do not begin a stretch program if you are experiencing any significant joint or back pain. Im this case you will want to seek the guidance of a medical professional.
It is ok to stretch to a point where you feel mild tension and relax as you hold the stretch.
Remember to have good posture when standing or sitting such as:
Chin parallel to the floor
Arms at your sides, elbows relaxed and even with each other
Knees even and pointing straight ahead
Feet pointing straight ahead
Body weight evenly distributed on both feet when standing or feet flat on the floor when seated.
Stretching is an excellent activity to help you stay flexible and improve overall health. Stretching while using a standing desk is a great way to maximize the benefits of standing desks and help you improve your flexibility and overall posture. Best of luck adding these eight stretches to your stand up desk routine and happy standing!