As a fitness writer, exercise is a big part of my life, but so is sitting. I sit on my laptop while I work, I sit on the couch to rest, and when I travel, I ping between car, bus, plane and train seats.
Despite playing sports and doing regular strength training, my back, shoulders, neck and spine are often stiff and tight. So I decided to find some stretches to help me freshen up.
That’s how I found Dr Adam McCluskey. He is a doctor of physical therapy who runs an Instagram account (ThePtInitiative) where he shares tips, tricks, and stretches to help followers “move better and live pain-free”.
Among his posts is a four-move “desk mobility routine” that only requires a chair to try. So I decided to give it a try and document the results.
How to make desk mobility work by Dr Adam McCluskey
- Chair supported rotations 2×10 on each side
- Kneeling thoracic extension 2×12
- Assisted side bend stretch 2×15 on each side
- Sitting figure four plus rotation 2×12 on each side
To see demonstrations of each move, watch the video below.
My takeaways from trying this ‘desk mobility routine’
1. It works fast
From start to finish, this task took me about 10 minutes. That certainly wasn’t long enough to undo years of muscle tightness, but I did notice some differences during and after the session.
Both the chair supports the rotations and the kneeling chest extensions offer a really nice stretch in the front of my shoulders. By the second round of each movement, my body warmed up, my shoulder joint moved more and I was able to do the movements without any discomfort.
The fourth move also sent a welcome deep stretch to my hips and glutes, areas that can tighten and weaken from too much sitting.
2. My spine is more relaxed afterwards
When we exercise, we usually try to keep our back straight. If we bend our back during exercise, it’s usually to bend it forward for a sit-up. But that’s not how we use our spine in everyday life.
Whether we’re reaching to grab our bag from an overhead luggage rack or turning to talk to someone sitting next to us, our backs need to move in many different ways. This routine reflects diversity with a variety of stretching, lateral bending and twisting movements.
By the end of the session my spine felt more relaxed. Each movement also offers a pleasant stretch to the rest of my body. I felt the assisted side bends extending down the side of my body, while the kneeling thoracic extension targeted the center of my back.
3. It identifies tight spots
This work really showed me where my tight spots were. Kneeling thoracic (mid-spine) extensions identified and eased a knot in the middle of my back, while chair support rotations highlighted tightness in the front of my shoulders.
I was also surprised to find how much tighter my hips were on my left side than on my right while sitting in the figure four position of the last move. I can easily hold the edge of the seat with my left hand when leaning on my right knee, but I can’t get close to the opposite side.
It’s helpful to identify these tight spots, because it means I can find stretches to target them in future mobility sessions.
4. I felt relaxed and ready to focus
My body was grateful for the extra movement, and I found getting away from my laptop for 10 minutes left me feeling refreshed. But it wasn’t just my muscles that felt less tense after this workout
After finishing it, I found it easier to focus on work—and write the part you’re reading now.
Will I try again?
I will do this routine again. I ended up feeling more relaxed in my spine and shoulders, and enjoyed taking 10 minutes out of my day for some relaxing stretches.
However, instead of regularly doing the tasks in their entirety, I’m more likely to keep these motions in my back pocket for days when I want to take a break at my desk in one quick motion.
I also liked how accessible it was—all you need is a chair and you’re good to go. So if you work at a desk, I definitely recommend giving it a try.
Want more activities to help you relax? Try these yoga stretches for beginners, or do some hip stretches to combat the damage caused by sitting all day.
Need a new mat to support your stretching regime? Check out our guide to the best yoga mats from 2023
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Image Source : www.fitandwell.com