by Darren Main • Winter 2001
Over the past million years, the human body has evolved. First, we were hunters with bodies that allowed us to catch our dinner. Slowly we became farmers and our bodies changed, needing to stretch and reach more.
About 150 years ago, we became industrialized. Our bodies shifted again to be more suitable for factory work. But before that evolution was complete, we started leaving the factories to go to the wonderful world of cubicles and office chairs. Our minds evolved so quickly that our bodies couldn’t keep up.
The bottom line is that we need movement to keep ourselves healthy. We need to be dynamic and in motion in order for every system in our bodies to function properly. Even the mind works better when the body is active and stimulated.
Unfortunately, many of us have jobs that require we work in areas that would make the stable of a veal calf look spacious.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not suggesting we abandon the technological revolution, but taking a few minutes to stretch out several times per day would go a long way toward relieving a lot of your work-related pain and discomfort.
Try doing these simple exercises several times during the day. You’re sure to notice a difference in your health and your attitude.
1. Reach for the sky
Begin by sitting up straight. Close your eyes and take a few conscious deep breaths. Reach your hands slowly over your head and clasp them together. Allow your hands to invert so that the palms press toward the sky. Keep the spine long and tall and take 10 deep breaths in this position. When you’re done, let your arms float back down and open your eyes. Take a moment to enjoy the effects of this exercise.
2. Reach and twist
Begin by sitting up straight in your chair without using the backrest for support. Make your spine as tall as possible. Now reach your right hand to your left knee and begin pulling your spine into a twist. Once you have twisted your spine as far as you comfortably can, turn your head to look in the opposite direction of the twist. Try to hold the twist for five to 10 breaths and then repeat twisting to the other side.
3. Leg stretch
You will need a little bit of legroom to do this stretch, so you may want to push your chair away from your desk a bit. Straighten your legs and flex the feet by pulling the toes back toward your face. Now begin to lean forward so that the hands reach toward the feet. If you can easily grab the feet, begin pulling your chest toward the shins. Try to hold the stretch for five full breaths.
Note: If you have any injuries, check with your healthcare provider before doing any exercises, and be sure to engage in other forms of exercise away from your desk to really keep the body healthy and strong.