Author: Mary Jo Cameron
Desk work is a real pain in the neck, back, and shoulders…why suffer? Release the tension fast without getting up from your chair with these three chair stretches.
While you can do some of these using a regular office chair, these stretches were chosen by a chiropractor for the exercise guide that comes with the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair featured on Good Morning America and in a Wall Street Journal review of the best office chairs.
First, sit in Positive Seated Posture
You'll begin two of these exercises in Positive Seated Posture. Some of this is just smart ergonomics, regardless of what kind of office chair you have. And if you're using a Balance Ball Chair, this sitting position alone is designed to provide a slew of physical and health benefits:
Here's how to sit in Positive Seated Posture position:
In proper Positive Seated Posture, the spine should feel long and upright, and you should feel the natural curve in the lower back. Torso should feel completely balanced on the chair, without excess weight on the feet. If your torso is falling forward with excess weight on your feet, you may be seated too far forward. If you don’t feel the natural lower-back curve or feel little or no weight on your feet, you may be seated too far back.
CAUTION: If you're using a Balance Ball Chair, do not lean back against support bar. The bar is designed only for stability during exercises and only as shown in the Desktop Guide that comes with the chair.
The numerous benefits of this exercise include releasing tension in the spine, stretching the lower back and hamstring muscles, energizing the brain and central nervous system, and slowing the heart rate. Do this stretch anytime you need to take a quiet break and unwind.
You can also do the Seated Forward Bend exercise with your legs extended (not bent at the knee) straight out in front of you or out to the sides at a 45-degree angle.
Many of us spend extended periods of time seated; this can result in tight hips, unbalanced posture and an inefficient stride. This seated stretch initiates a deep stretch of the hip joints, creating flexibility in the knees and buttocks and promoting better posture and a more efficient stride.
This exercise is designed specifically for the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair. It would be tough to do this move on a regular office chair (even one without arms), and we don't recommend trying it, since the curve of the ball is what affords the fantastic arch and stretch of the spine in this move.
But it's SUCH a wonderful stretch — as you well know if you've ever done this move using a standard Balance Ball or exercise ball on the floor — that we wanted to include it here.
This stretch helps lengthen and realign the spine, hips and waist. It initiates a deep stretch of the thoracic cavity, opening the chest and increasing lung capacity. It also helps counteract the effects of slouching and hunching of the shoulders.
You can also do this exercise in reverse, flipping over and placing your abdomen on the ball.