When the dreaded three o'clock feeling starts to hit, don't let it limit your productivity at work. Sitting for extended periods of time can negatively affect your concentration, health and overall well-being. Instead, take a break to stretch out the tension in your muscles. It's an easy way to hit the reset button and boost your efficiency.
Here are a few simple stretches to get you through the work day:
Twist it out
You don't even have to stand up to release the tension in your back. To perform the seated spinal twist, shift your legs to the right of the chair so you're sitting in it sideways. Place your hands on the back of the chair and swivel your upper body in that direction. You should feel a stretch down your spine, and also in your neck and chest. Hold it for about 10 seconds, then switch to the left side. If that felt really good, feel free to repeat it again on both sides.
Touch your toes
This stretch will feel amazing whether you're standing up or sitting down. If you're standing, keep your feet flat and bend over to reach them, bringing your upper body as close to your legs as you can. Let your arms hang loosely and take a few deep breaths before slowing rolling up. Imaging you're coming up one vertebrae at a time. If you're seated, simply extend your legs forward and reach for your toes. Hold the position for about 30 seconds. For a more focused stretch, you can do it one leg at a time. You should feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstrings and lower back.
Bend and wrist
Typing all day causes tension to build in your wrists. Simply stand up and place your hands on your desk, with your wrists facing away from your body. Apply pressure until you feel the stretch, and lean forward to feel a deeper extension. Hold until you feel the tension release. Finish the stretch with some wrist circles. Or, add an overhead stretch to alleviate tightness in your wrists, shoulders, upper back and arms. Raise both arms, interlock your fingers and press upward toward the ceiling.
Get your blood flowing
After sitting for hours, your legs start to feel like they're wasting away. To get your blood flowing again, stand up and do a few squats. You can use your chair as a guide to push yourself to bend lower, hovering just above the seat. Next, hold the back of your chair and extend one leg straight behind you to strengthen your leg and booty muscles. You should also feel a light stretch in your lower back. Alternate between legs as many times as you need. Finally, sit back down and rest one ankle on the opposite knee. Straighten your back, then lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hip and down your thigh. Hold for a while, then switch to the other side.
Round out your stretching break by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to fully recenter yourself. Now you're ready to get back to work for a mega-productive afternoon!