Here Are Some Simple Stretches To Do At Your Computer To Help Relax Your Muscles
by James Coulter
Shoulders feeling stiff? Back feeling tense? Getting a pain in the neck? With more people working at-home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are spending most of our time at the computer.
Sitting hunched over a keyboard and computer screen for long periods of time can stiffen our back, neck, and shoulders. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple stretches you can do without even leaving your seat to help limber your muscles.
Eli Viaz, Lead Massage Therapist for Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, has more than seven years of massage therapy experience. Having treated countless patients, he knows how tense our upper body muscles can become when sitting for a long time.
“Sitting in front of the computer, it is essentially not one of our natural states,” Viaz explained. “We can sit, but not for a long time. I would suggest getting up from your computer, getting up from your seat, walk around the house, do some pacing, try to relax and loosen up yourself.”
Aside from taking occasional breaks from the computer to walk around and stretch, Viaz and his colleauges recommend that people can stretch their muscles in the comfort of their own computer desk chair. Here are just a few suggestions, via a press release:
Neck Stretches: Because the head usually is propped forward when looking at a laptop, look up as high as you comfortably can, then rotate side to side. You will feel the stretch in the base of your neck and the top of your chest.
Shoulder stretches: You should get off the couch for this one. Walk through a doorway with your hands out at the shoulder level. Relax your shoulders as you stretch your arms back. If that is not enough of a stretch, move your hands up and down the doorway from head to waist height to stretch out the entire Pectoralis Major Muscle.
Back stretches: The back is a big area to stretch. While sitting cross-legged (only if it is comfortable), tilt your spine to each side by reaching to the ceiling with one elbow and the floor with the other, then switch. Next, hug yourself and twist your spine as far as you can go each way. Lean forward over your legs and then lean back over a pillow.
Viaz explained how sitting in front of a computer can create stress on the body. Our muscles were created to be active, and when they remain inactive, pressure is applied to bones, tendons, and muscles that creates stress.
“Stress is not a bad thing,” he explained. “When the muscles stress out, it creates movement. When you are constantly stressing the muscles without burning that energy, it actually keeps compressing. The bones give us structure, muscles are the ones holding them in place, and if they are tense, they will pull out of place.”
When pressure is applied to bones and joints, they can pinch nerves, which creates aches and pains throughout our body. Remaining seated can create aches in our neck, back, and shoulders, and working at the keyboard and mouse can create aches in our wrists, potentially developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
As such, Viaz recommends paying close attention to how our bodies feel. If our muscles feel achy or sore, that pain could be an indicator of bigger problems that could develop. This pain can be relieved through simple measures such as massage and stretches.
“We need to remember that our bodies are machinery and we need to keep it in check,” he said. “Keep your machinery working for a longer time…Always listen to your body. A lot of time, people will say they have a pinch. Have your worked or moved that shoulder? Move it. Check it. Listen to your body.”
Rene Tirado, Co-Owner and General Manager of Hand And Stone Massage, also mentioned how, aside from creating bodily stress, our working and sitting habits, especially during these uncertain times, can also create emotional stress. Since many of us have altered our daily routines due to stay-at-home orders, our bodies are still trying to cope to these changes, which in turn creates stress, he explained.
“A lot of people have higher stress levels because people are not in their normal routine,…and it puts a strain on the body as well,” Tirado said. “You’re not getting enough sleep, your exercise habits are out of wack, and all of that, compared to the past, [creates stress, for which] they might
get a massage to get physical and mental relief.”
As for the upper body, aches and pains in the neck, back, and shoulder are often created due to our postures. Our heads weigh around ten pounds, so balancing them upon our neck and shoulder is like carrying around a bowling ball all day; and sitting improperly can create stress in those upper body areas, he said.
“For people who use tablets…it can be worse because you are looking down, your shoulders are leaning down, and it puts more stress on the body,” he said. “In a short movement, you can compact that and overstretch your back muscle. You get over tense, and we need to stretch out and move our shoulders out. You need to relax the muscle to know when to release and distress.”
As with Viaz’s recommendation, Tirado also suggests listening close to your body. Pay attention to where you may be feeling aches and pains. And if you’ve been sitting in one place for a long time, take a moment to stand up, stretch, and pace around.
“Always listen to your body,” he said. “Make sure every movement that you are making you are taking your time. It will not take long for these exercises, but do take your time. It will pay off in the end.”
Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa is located at 4750 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33813. For more information, visit their website at: https://www.handandstonelakeland.com/