Cube dwellers, rejoice! Learn how to work out work-induced woes (think carpal tunnel, tight shoulders, lower back issues and more) with yoga poses.
Modern living takes a toll on both the body and mind. As a writer, I spend hours sitting at the computer or hunched over my phone; yet, as a yoga teacher, I know how bad this is, specifically for the shoulders and neck. Since it’s virtually impossible to digitally detox, try these ideas to counteract the damage. Anyone can do these yoga poses, anywhere, anytime, with zero equipment needed, to realign the body and calm the mind.
Check your neck
Daily stress, long hours at the computer, driving without being mindful, poor posture and/or sleeping positions can wreak havoc on the neck muscles, causing them to buckle, seize or tighten. Plus, the weight of the head also works the shoulder and neck muscles. If the neck is misaligned, it becomes effortful to hold the head and this surrender to gravity can lead to greater neck pain. Muscles of the neck are located from the base of the skull, to the upper back, shoulders and anterior to the collarbone. Be aware of proper alignment and posture; practice breathing techniques before beginning these yoga poses.
Try stretching a stiff neck by gently moving the chin to the chest, rolling to the right, back and to the left before coming back to center at the chin. Move slowly, rolling a few times before switching directions. Lifting the chin and opening the chest can also be helpful is assessing the placement of the head on top of the neck.
Create space in shoulders
Looking down at your phone, whether it’s while walking to work or waiting on a train platform, creates chaos in the hyper-mobile shoulder girdle. Use your commute or any workday hour as an opportunity to stretch and move shoulders and rotator cuffs. Raise both shoulders up toward the ears; then, release them back down, allowing them to decompress. Next, take the shoulders up and roll them back down, until you feel the opposite action of being hunched forward. Shoulder blades should feel like they are moving in toward each other, maintaining the heads of the arms back and down, while the collarbone broadens, opening and creating space in chest and armpits. The body is designed to stack vertically; these poses will help you achieve correct alignment while walking, sitting or standing.
Carpal tunnel cure-alls
Constant typing commonly causes strain and pain in the wrists, including numbness, tingling or stiffness in and around the narrow passageway of bones and ligaments on the underside of the wrist. When tendons become inflamed (often due to repetitive finger and hand use) the median nerve compresses, creating these symptoms.
To alleviate and prevent these issues, try the following: Press palms and fingers together in a prayer position in front of your collarbone; bend and stretch fingers. If you have wall space in your office or cubicle, do a 90-degree forward bend to wall. Stand with feet about hip-width apart facing wall, keep your body an arm’s length away from the wall. Raise arms up and overhead. Bend forward from hips, bringing hands to rest on the wall.
Try table pose if you don’t mind getting down on the floor, on hands and knees, maintaining your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. First, slowly turn each hand out 90 degrees, taking several breath cycles while feeling the stretch. Next, externally turn each hand 180 degrees until your fingers point backward and take several breaths. If the floor isn’t an option, simple stand above your desk, lean forward and place hands and wrists directly under the shoulders. Rotate wrists in the same manner; you can also try placing the backs of the hands down, palms facing up and fingertips pointing in toward the body, to create a reverse stretch throughout the wrists.
Take a break
Sounds simple, and obvious, but this is so important. According to Dr. Naresh Rao, a partner with Sports Medicine in New York City and author of the book Step Up Your Game: The Revolutionary Program Elite Athletes Use to Increase Performance and Achieve Total Health: “Office workers or anyone sitting for periods of time should get up for five minutes at the end of every hour.” Finally, the doctor recommends easing eyestrain from staring at screens by doing 10 slow eye blinks every 20 minutes. Then, look at a far object for 10 seconds; follow by closing one eye 10 seconds for 10 times and repeat on the other side.