Just like much of the victory in a Formula 1 race can be attributed to efficiency during the race’s many “pit stops”, your ability to keep productivity and energy up throughout the workday can be attributed to your habits related to strategic relaxation.
Here are some simple stretches that increase blood circulation, loosen stiff muscles and prevent back pain. As we sit all day, often bent forward, discomfort in the back can be a major thief of energy and concentration.
With regular relaxation, both physically and mentally, you can increase productivity and maintain a consistently high energy level throughout the day.
1) Shoulder Roll
The purpose is to loosen up, and start the blood circulation in your shoulders and neck, after sitting statically for a long time. This area keeps a lot of the stress and tension from writing and clicking.
2) Back Stretch
The exercise stretches the back of the shoulders and muscles between the shoulder blades; an area you may tense unconsciously if you are stressed. Here you also stretch your forearm and fingers.
3) Body Rotation
This rotation exercise will help you release some of the tension you may feel in your lower back. Sitting for extended periods can make the lower back tight and aching. Do not go too far with this exercise. You just need to rotate a little to feel this stretch in your lower back. It can also be performed seated.
4) Spine Hygiene
Place two fists on your glutes and push your hips forward, while stretching your chest. Rotate the hip slowly in small circles and pause where you feel you need to stretch.
5) Standing knee-to-elbow
Gently start rotating your body, while driving your elbow to the opposite knee. This will help you loosen up your lower back, while activating your core.
6) Front Hip Stretch
The lower body often becomes tight from sitting too much. This especially applies to the muscle in front of the hips called the hip flexors. By stretching this muscle regularly, you reduce the tightness.
7) The Cat Camel
I know this looks strange at first, but trust me. This exercise is very helpful for lower back pain. First, curve the back like a camel for 3 sec. Then, reverse the movement, and curve like a cat for 3 sec.
8 + 9) Glute Stretch - Left & Right
The purpose of this movement is specifically to stretch the "gluteus medium". If this muscle gets tight it can be a source of lower back pain. Do this stretch on both sides, and as often as you like.
10 + 11) Spiderman Stretch - Left & Right
This looks a bit more difficult and requires some mobility. But once you get the hang of if, it is a great stretch for your hips, lower back and chest. It starts like a lunge, with one hand in the ground. Push your hips down, while rotating your upper body and reaching up towards the roof.
12) Glute Bridge / Foam Rolling
The glute bridge is a great exercise to activate the muscles in your lower back and glutes. Since these muscles are inactive for the most of your seated work day, this exercise might feel very comfortable after long periods of sitting.
Alternatively you can do foam rolling. Note: Do not roll over your lower back. Start from your shoulder blades and roll down to your mid-back. Then roll up again. After working for a while, this could relieve a lot of tension in your upper back.
Follow the full 6 min guided session here