Office Chair Exercise

By: sybil - February 23, 2009
“Oh, my aching back!”

We would all like to spend our days exercising and playing to our heart’s content, however most of us spend over 8 hours of our day sitting in an office chair in front of a computer screen. As the day progresses, you begin to feel fatigue in your shoulders, neck, and lower back. With fatigue comes sleepiness, lack of focus, and even misplaced anger due to irritating pain. You could try to fix the pain by buying a new expensive ergonomic chair, adjusting your computer screen, or wearing a back brace. However, the cheaper and easier options, and maybe better for the long run, are stretching and strengthening your muscles.

Start by checking your posture while sitting on your office chair:

1.) Is your lower back rounded?
2.) Are your shoulders and upper chest collapsed?
3.) Does your chin protrude?
4.) Is your neck tensed and constricted?

If you answered yes to even just one of the above questions, then I am certain you are suffering from some sort of pain in your upper body.

There is a remedy. Listed below are several easy exercises you can do during the day to help ease pain and fight fatigue. However, it is important to begin with a few deep breaths. Deep, mindful breathing is the easiest and most healthy way to combat fatigue, anger, depression and pain. So, begin this series of exercises with several counted inhales and exhales. Start with an inhale that takes six counts to reach full lung capacity, then an exhale doing the same. This will allow your breath to find a rhythm. To release a bit more tension, sigh deeply with an open jaw or buzz your lips together like a horse as you exhale.

Now that you are relaxed and focused, follow these simple exercises to heal and refresh your body during a long day at your desk:

1.) Sit on the edge of your office chair with your knees hip width apart and your feet firmly planted on the ground. (Be sure your chair is either against a wall or has its wheels locked). Contract your belly by tucking in your stomach as if someone has punched you, then reverse this posture and stick your bum out. Move through these two postures several times until you find the middle ground between your lower back being released or contracted. Now, sit up tall with a small curve in your lower spine just above your tail bone.

2.) Breathe in and lift your shoulders to your ears, then drop them down loosely on your exhale with a small shake. Repeat this motion several times. Now with your arms down at your sides, lift your shoulders to your ears, hold them there, and then rotate your palms out away from your legs. This action will allow your shoulders to roll slightly back. Gently release your shoulders down. You should now feel a slight lift across your collar bone and a gentle stretching from shoulder to shoulder.

3.) Maintaining the posture you just created in the last movement, take your right arm across to your left leg and place your right palm on your left knee. Gently turn your head to the left and allow your spine to spiral to the left. Hold this position for several inhales and exhales. When you breathe in lengthen your spine and when you breathe out gently twist to the left. Repeat this on the other side.

4.) Next, take a deep breath in, and with palms turned up to the ceiling, slowly raise both arms up alongside your ears. Turn your palms down to the floor and lengthen out from your fingertips as you bring your arms back down on an exhale. Repeat as many times as you need.

5.) Lastly, raise your arms alongside your ears and gently clasp your hands behind your head. Be sure to not put too much pressure on your head. As you inhale, move your elbows back then lift your chin, chest, and eyes slightly up to the ceiling. On the exhale, with hands still clasped, bring the elbows together (not quite touching) in front of your face. After several repetitions of this stretch, gently release you arms down, place your palms on your thighs, and close your eyes. Take a few moments to be still and quiet.

These are just five small stretches you can do to revitalize your body and relieve tension. You can also work on strengthening your core muscles which will support your back while it is being held upright in a seated position all day. Whether you never exercise or are an exercise fiend, you can certainly benefit from the strengthening involved in Fitlink’s Balance and Core Workout located under our Workouts tab.

Trust me, these exercises are worth your time and could save you money. How, you ask? By not needing to make additional coffee runs when you energy is waning! Share these exercises with your co-workers to create a happier and healthier work environment.

About the Submitter


Melissa has been a professional dancer in NYC for 10 years and holds a BA in Creative Writing from CUNY Hunter College.

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