Lunch break stretches:
- Finding time to stretch during your lunch break stretches can feel like an impossible task, especially if you’re the kind of person who gets antsy when forced to sit still for any period of time.
- However, as an entrepreneur, your health is one of your most important assets, so it’s crucial that you give your body the breaks it deserves—especially if you find yourself sitting at your desk for most of the day (which, as many entrepreneurs do, you probably are).
- Here are eight lunch break stretches to help give your body the break it deserves.
1) Chest Stretch
In lunch break stretches most of us spend our workdays staring at a computer screen, which means our chest muscles are often contracted for hours on end.
This is part of what leads to stiff necks and shoulders, so take five minutes at lunch to stretch out your chest by sitting in a chair with both feet on the floor and reaching both arms above you.
Pull one arm across your chest and gently hold for 10 seconds before switching arms. Do two or three repetitions per side. The release will feel wonderful!
2) The Shoulder Roll
To work out tight shoulders, stand up and roll your shoulders forward and backward a few times. While standing or sitting upright, rotate each shoulder so that your hand is positioned behind you at about a 90-degree angle.
While rotating, you should try to get your arm as far back as possible without arching too much at the lower back. Return to center and repeat on other side.
Do three rotations on each side before moving onto other exercises. This exercise can be done while working or waiting for a meeting, but do not perform it while driving.
It’s also helpful to do with a friend so they can provide feedback on how well you are doing. If done correctly, you will feel an increased range of motion in your shoulders and possibly down into your arms and hands.
As with any exercise program, consult with your doctor first if you have any preexisting conditions or are taking medication for an existing condition before beginning any new workout routine.
In addition, stretch after exercising when muscles are warm and pliable for best results (10). Doing static stretches immediately after working out has been shown to increase injury risk by decreasing muscle activation during exercise (11). So don’t forget those post-workout stretches!
3) The Child’s Pose
This is a great stretch for de-stressing, calming yourself and relieving any tension you may be carrying around with you. It’s simple enough that even a child can do it.
To get into Child’s Pose: Kneel on all fours, then widen your knees as much as is comfortable. As you inhale, bring your torso forward and drop your head between your arms.
Let out a deep sigh as you release every tense muscle in your body, especially those in your neck and shoulders. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths before coming back up slowly to sit on heels again.
4) Knee Pull
Lie on your back with knees bent. Pull both knees towards you with hands and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times. This stretch can help alleviate lower back pain and tension.
As a bonus, try adding a side bend to make it more effective: pull one knee toward your chest while reaching down to touch your toes on the opposite side.
Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 3 times. Be sure to keep abs tight so you don’t arch your back too much, which could strain muscles in your low back.
5) Hip Opener
Lie on your back with both knees bent and one foot placed flat on floor. Cross opposite elbow over knee, placing hand behind head.
Using opposite hand, gently pull elbow to twist torso towards knee for a deep stretch through upper back and mid-back. Hold for 30 seconds.
Switch sides and repeat another 30 seconds. (Level of difficulty: 1 out of 5) Cat/Cow: From all fours position, lower belly down to ground and lift spine up toward ceiling in a camel position.
Then round spine down like a cat into an arch position. Repeat 10 times, focusing on keeping movements fluid and full range of motion. This is an excellent way to open up chest muscles before sitting at desk or computer all day long.
6) Hamstring Stretch
Lie down on your back with both legs straight. Bend one leg, bring it toward you, and place that foot flat on the floor. Reach for and grab your other leg’s foot and pull it toward you gently.
You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings (the muscles in back of your thighs). Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with opposite leg. If there is any pain or discomfort, don’t do it.
If you’re stretching properly and holding for an appropriate amount of time, you shouldn’t feel any pain at all during these exercises. To help you relax more deeply into each pose, take slow deep breaths as you hold each position.
7) Spinal Twist
If you work in an office or tend to sit at a desk often, you’re going to want to get up and stretch. One good way to do so is through spinal twists.
This stretches out your spine, and can help with any pain you’re feeling from sitting for too long. To do so, lay on your back with both arms out straight and one leg crossed over on top of the other knee (both legs should be straight).
Twist toward one side and then twist toward the other side by turning your head in each direction. Repeat 5 times per side. Make sure not to lock into place; keep movement slow and gentle for best results.
8) The Seated Twist
Sit up straight with legs flat on floor, extended in front of you. Place left hand behind right leg, twist torso to right and place right hand on back of chair.
Hold for five breaths then repeat on opposite side. Feel free to use a wall for balance if you need to! This is great for lengthening spine.
(See illustration below) This stretch is great after long hours at a desk, driving or any other time when you may have hunched over too much during your day.
Do not hold stretch longer than 5-10 seconds without coming out of it before repeating on other side. It’s important to come out of stretch each time because staying in can cause muscle spasms which are not what we want here!
This stretch can be done multiple times throughout lunch break as well as during breaks throughout workday, or even at home if you’re so inclined!