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According to Michelle Kao, a Vancouver-based physiotherapist, it all comes down to stretching, which goes a long way toward undoing the health drawbacks of our mostly deskbound days.
"What happens when we ask our bodies to stay in one position for so long is that our postural muscles get fatigued, and don't do their job as well," she says. "We end up slouching because it takes less muscle energy — but over time, certain muscles get stretched out and others get tightened, which affects our standing posture and puts more pressure on nerves and blood vessels, which can increase pain."
These five easy stretches target the parts of our bodies that feel the strain most — and you can do them without even leaving your desk! (Although, that doesn't mean we're giving you permission to skip movement breaks throughout the day.)
Sit with your shoulders relaxed. Look straight ahead and focus on a point around eye level. Retract your chin as if you were making a double chin without tilting your head up or down. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
Where you should feel it: The upper part of the back of your neck, right below your skull.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Sit with your shoulders relaxed. Pinch your shoulder blades together without elevating your shoulders. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then repeat 10 more times. â€¨
Where you should feel it: A slight pulling in the chest and tension between the shoulder blades.
While sitting upright and looking straight ahead, tilt your ear towards your shoulder on the same side. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times.
Where you should feel it: The side of neck that you're tilting away from.
Sit with one ankle crossed over the opposite knee. Push the crossed knee down towards the floor while leaning forward. Keep your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times.
Where you should feel it: In the bum muscle on the side of the crossed leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Stand up and place your shin on a chair behind you. Gently lunge forward onto the standing leg and push your hips forwards. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times.
Where you should feel it: Front of the hips of the leg on the chair.
For more fitness exercises, check out these strength-boosting moves.