Last updated on December 9th, 2021
5 Ways to Feel Good in Five Minutes
If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting at a computer. I don’t know how long you’ve been sitting there, but if it’s for more than 60 minutes, your neck, back and hip muscles haven’t been getting a lot of blood flow.
It’s commonly known that inactivity can lead to muscles stiffness, knotting and in the long run, muscle atrophy. It’s the old “use it or loose it” concept.
I sit at the computer a lot. If I’m not traveling, I’m at the screen five to six hours a day and I don’t even have “a desk job”. The most advantageous thing I’ve noticed about computer work is that my mind is getting sharper. Thinking is a great passive exercise! But as we get older we become more flexibly challenged. I know, that if I don’t get up and stretch at least every hour, I’m in trouble.
What Are the Quickest, Best Ways to Stretch?
Plain old stretching is good, but easy yoga stretching, (the moves practiced at the beginning and end of a yoga class), is better because it not only targets the right muscle groups, it tones the internal organs and clears your head.
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 15 years and I know it has made a tremendous difference in my abilities to think clearer and remain flexible, even when I practice bad habits like sitting at the computer for hours.
Here Are a Few Easy Moves
Standing Side Stretch
– Take a few deep breaths through your nose. Continue to breath slowly and deeply as you reach your arms up over your head.
If you don’t have neck issues, you can look up as you breath.
– Take hold of your left wrist with your right hand and slowly, gently bend sideways at the waist, towards the right while pulling your left arm, every so gently. Do not go to pain; do not over-stretch; just go to where it feels good! This may be only an inch.
– Take two more deep breaths in and out through your nose while you hold the pose, then slowly return to the center, your arms still overhead. Lower your arms.
– Repeat the same breathing, stretching exercise on the left side by floating your arms up, grabbing your right wrist, and gently stretching over to the left. Hold the stretch for 2 long, deep breaths and return to the center. Lower your arms.
This simple exercise, loosens up those tight neck muscles. You can do these exercises standing (as shown in the photos) or seated.
– Standing with arms at your sides, stretch your hands towards the floor, pressing your shoulders away from your ears.
– Breathe slowly, deeply, in and out through your nose, 2 times, expanding and contracting your belly with each breath.
– Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and take 2 deep, slow breaths in and out through your nose.
– On the next inhalation, press your shoulders forward and hold while you take 2 deep slow breaths.
– Return to a normal resting position.
– Next move your shoulders back as if you were trying to connect your shoulder blades. Open your chest as you take your next two deep breaths.
– Return to a normal resting position. Move your shoulders forward as if you were trying to connect them. Expand the area between your shoulder blades.
3- Neck Massage
You’ll stretch both neck and shoulders in this move. You can do these exercises standing (as shown in the photos) or seated
– Roll your chin to your chest as you press your shoulders down away from your ears.
– Keep breathing slowly and deeply for at least 2 breaths.
– Keeping your shoulders down, move your chin to the left and then to the right. Go only to the point where the stretch feels good. Never go to pain.
– Return your head to the center breathe deeply expanding your belly, in an out.
4- Back Stretch
– Bend over gently, so your back is 90 degrees from your legs, resting your hands on your thighs or knees.
– Stretch your upper torso forward, feeling the stretch in your back and along the back of your legs. Only go to where the stretch feels good! It’s okay to bend your knees if that’s more comfortable.
– Take a few long slow breaths in and out through your nose as you enjoy the stretch. If you are more limber, you can fold over at the waist, letting your arms touch your shins or toes, or grab your elbows and just hang there.
– Feel the gentle stretch in the back of your legs while you extend your spine. Breathe into your back, expanding your belly.
– Slowly, gently return to a standing position. Use your stomach muscles as you come up and imagine that you are stacking your spine’s vertebrae one by one on top of one another as you return to a standing position.
5- Quadriceps Stretch
Sitting for long periods at a time allows these powerful leg muscles to shorten and creates stress on the lower back muscles. Here’s an easy move to counteract computer quad atrophy!
This stretch is really a simple lunge. If you’ve ever seen yoga warrior poses, you’ll notice that this is modified version, because we’re doing yoga stretches, not poses.
– From a standing position, move your right foot 3-4 feet inches in front of your left foot – slightly to the right of your center so you maintain balance. Think about standing on railroad tracks, not a tightrope! You can hold onto a chair needed.
– Bend your right forward leg at the knee and adjust your stance so you are comfortably in this lunging position.
– Keep your upper body upright and straight.
– Make sure (and this is very important!) your right knee is not bent beyond your ankle or you’ll create a nasty strain on the knee.
– Now tilt your pelvis forward while you hold the lunge. You should feel a stretch in your left quad. You should also feel a stretch in your back all the way up your lower torso.
– Hold the position for 2-3 slow deep breaths to start. Return to standing and repeat the same lunge with the other leg.
Now you can go back to the computer for another hour!
Disclaimer: This article is meant for informative purposes only and does not claim to be medically correct. Please consult a yoga master, before trying out any of the exercises listed here.