Working at home during the Coronavirus pandemic has executives and professionals all tensed up and feeling tight. Not that it’s out of the norm to feel that way mentally, I’m speaking physically in regard to muscles from sitting and typing on your computer. A whole host of movement dysfunctions result from hours of daily sitting that most people believe are their new normal. This blog will help you with three specific upper body stretches to mitigate pain and discomfort in your upper body from working extended hours on your computer.
- Stretch Your Biceps
“Stretch my biceps?” you ask. Yes, your biceps! Sitting with your arms bent at 90 degrees or more puts your biceps in a flexed position. You don’t have to be in the gym pumping out barbell curls to have your biceps experience tightness. The bicep muscles contract and bring your hand towards your shoulder, not much else purpose for them. What is important are all the reasons why you bend your arm at the elbow to bring objects and your hand closer to you shoulder, face, and head (bringing food to your mouth is a vital function). Being in a constant state of flex makes your biceps tight and over time, you can’t extend your arms fully without pain in your shoulder and elbow. Stretching your biceps like the picture allows the proper length-tension relationship to return to your arms. Pain in your elbow and shoulders, along with proper function, can extend your work life.
- Stretch Your Pectorals (Chest)
Sitting with your hands on the keyboard, as I’m doing now, brings your arms together and contracting your pectoral muscles, also over stretching muscles in your upper back. Over time, this position rounds your shoulders, makes you appear shorter, tightens your chest muscles, and reduces mobility of your shoulders and back. If you workout, your bench press is impacted negatively from a reduced range of motion. You literally become closed off and look unhappy even though you’re an upbeat person. A simple stretch like the image below, is done with your arms in an L shape at 90 degrees leaning into a door frame. It’s important to also stand up tall while leaning into the stretch for maximum effectiveness. You will feel more open and give the appearance of more confidence with your shoulders back and head up!
- Stretch Your Trapezius Muscles
Ever shrug your shoulders? Of course you have, many times a day. When you do so, your trapezius muscles pull up your shoulders to your ears. With your arms elevated on your keyboard, your trapezius muscles are engaged to help keep them in this position. Long hours of typing letters, presentations, and emails keep your trapezius muscles engaged. Similar to your pecs, tight traps can give you the appearance of being shorter and hunched over. Tight and consistently elevated traps pull your head forward extending your cervical vertebrae to potentially cause disc herniation. Tension headaches also occur as a result of tightness in the traps and cervical spine area. How can you stretch them out, place your body like the picture below. Be sure to pull lightly on your neck to avoid injury. Keep your back straight and upright pulling your keeping your head neutral with the ear lined up with the shoulder. Do not pull your head forward or back, just directly to the opposite side of your extended arm.
Integrate these stretches a few times a day during your working hours. Stretching these muscles makes a world of difference in how you feel and look. During these unprecedented times of longer hours working from home, you need the stress relief!