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Work From Home Stretch Break: For Improved Health

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, life has changed, and more people are now spending time behind a computer and sitting down behind a desk. Ultimately this means we move less and sit more, exercising our typing skills and staring at a screen all day versus engaging with life outdoors.

Although working from home perks include avoiding traffic and showing up in your PJs, on the downside, you are responsible for keeping yourself accountable to remain focused and getting your body moving.

Which, for many, does not come that easy.

As we close the doors to the outside world and show up for work at our kitchen table, distractions are inevitable. They are lying in the sink, tugging at your pant leg, popping up in your news feed, and redirecting your attention to anything but being productive with your time.

We have carefully put this blog together for all the work from home individuals trying to find their footing navigating the digital life of 2021.
Work from home stretch break for improved health

The Importance Of Stretching

Many people overlook the importance of daily stretching because plopping down on the sofa after a long day seems far more relaxing than grabbing a mat and doing a couple of exercises. If you are someone who tells yourself you should start stretching but avoids it like the plague, this is your sign to start. 

Since your life slowly shifted to working remotely, this is an opportunity to control your health and your new workflow and routine. Keep reading through this blog as we help you transition from couch potato to resilient potato.

Why Should You Stretch?

After days of long hours sitting at your desk at home or worse on your couch while overextending your neck staring at your computer, you are sore. Let’s face it; there is no denying the tension in your neck or the trigger of pain in your mid-back. 

Your body is crying out for some love, and your brain needs a breather! 

You’ve been working for hours, and your late afternoon coffee is not helping; regardless of being physically active or not, stretching decreases the risk of injury and keeps your joints and limbs moving optimally day in and out. 

Not to mention, it gives your body and muscles the rejuvenation it needs after a long day of sitting. Plus, your mind can use a moment of quiet to allow you to come back to the breath, which we’ll touch on later on in this blog.

3 Types Of Stretches

  • Static Stretching is the lengthening of your muscle to the point of mild discomfort. During a static stretch, you are holding your positions between 20-30 seconds and then releasing. 
  • Ballistic Stretching is a muscle stretch with a bouncing type technique. You may have seen athletes do this before a race. 
  • PNF or also known as a “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation,” quite the mouthful, right? The PNF stretching technique combines stretching, contracting without moving the limb, and then transitioning further into a deeper stretch. 

 

To get the full benefits of stretching without hurting yourself, we must cover a few greens and red light criteria to follow when you decide to take your “work from home stretch break.” 

 

GREENLIGHT 

  1. Stretching after physical activity is best because your muscles are already warmed up, lengthened, and have blood flowing to them. 
  2. Indulge in mild stretching every day. 
  3. It is essential to take precautions if you have any health conditions and contact your physician. 

 

RED LIGHT 

  1. Avoid stretching injured areas! Remember, you want to feel a gentle pull or mild discomfort, not pain! 
  2. Avoid stretching after hard intervals. 
  3. Don’t do ballistic stretching on your own. This stretching type is best done with a coach or guided by a professional to avoid injury and muscle strains. 

Now it is time to grab your mat, throw on something comfortable and try work from home stretch break. 

Top 5 Work From Home Stretches

1) Lunge With A Spinal Twist (also known as the World’s Greatest Stretch.)

Essential for posture-related pain and individuals who sit for prolonged periods. 

Stretches the hip flexors, quads, and back. 
  • Start with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a big step forward with your left foot; your feet should be in a staggered stance. 
  • Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge. Keep your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground. (You should feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.) 
  • Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you simultaneously extend your left arm to the sky. 
  • Hold anywhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. Repeat on each side. 
Work from home stretch break for improved health

2) Piriformis Stretch 

Piriformis is an internal hip rotator located on the outside of the butt and produces a lot of movement in the hips. 

The piriformis stretch is helpful for those struggling with sciatica. 

Stretches the hips, back, and glutes. 
  • Sit with both legs extended in front of you. 
  • Cross your right leg over your left and place your right foot flat on the ground. 
  • Place your right hand on the floor behind you. 
  • Place your left hand on your right quad or your elbow on your right knee (as demonstrated) and press your right leg to the left as you twist your torso to the right. 
  • If this position bothers your back, release and simply use your left hand to pull your right quad to the left.
  • Hold anywhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. Repeat on each side. 
Work from home stretch break for improved health

3) Standing Hamstring Stretch 

Stretches the neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. 
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Leave your arm at your side. 
  • Bend forward at the hips, lowering your head towards the floor. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed. 
  • Wrap your arms around the back of your legs or let them hang. Do not lock your knees to avoid over-extending. 
  • Hold anywhere between 45 seconds - two minutes.
  • When you are ready to come up, bend your knees and slowly come up one vertebra at a time.
 
Work from home stretch break for improved health

4) Seated Shoulder Squeeze 

The shoulder squeeze stretch is designed for poor posture and tension in the lower back. 

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent in front of you with both soles flat on the ground. 
  • Clasp your hands behind your lower back. 
  • Straighten and extend arms while squeezing the shoulder blades together. 
  • Hold for three to five seconds and release. You can repeat this move five to ten times. 

5) Neck Release

Relieving the neck also has positive impacts on the upper body, shoulders, and spine. 

Stretches the neck. 
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, or you can sit with your back straight and chest lifted. 
  • Drop your right ear to your right shoulder. 
  • For a deeper stretch: Take your right hand and gently press down on the left side of your head. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes and repeat on each side. 
Work from home stretch break for improved health

The Benefits Of Stretching Your Mind

This section of the blog will shine a light on two aspects of stretching the mind. One that will help you train your commitment and introduce the breath into your work from home stretch.

Let’s start by talking about breath. 

Why Is Breath Important When You Stretch? 

When we hold our breath during a stretch, it is most likely because we are overstretching, resulting in injury and muscle strain. Allow the breath to be a barometer to help you gauge how far you can go and the way you move. 

As we hold our breath, we deprive our muscles of the oxygenated blood that it needs to convert glucose into Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP ( ATP is the energy currency for cells that provide our body with the energy required to complete an exercise).

Without oxygenated blood entering our muscles, we convert glucose into lactic acid, which results in pain. 

How To Breathe During Your Stretch 

Simple. 

Exhale on exertion. 

While gently paying attention to your breath, breathe out when you are working the hardest.

How Do You Train Your Mind To Commit?

We want you to be successful, and we believe we must give you tools that can deliver benefits to a healthier and happier life. We can share the top 5 work from home stretches with you and send you on your way, but we would be missing one particular aspect that hinders our ability to commit and balance our remote schedules. 

Training our mind is where it all starts. 

To build resilience, taking baby steps is a must. How many infants have you seen run before they walk? 

None. 

Somewhere down the line, we were programmed to rush and take on more than we can chew. With that said, we are hindering our abilities because we give up too soon since our tasks became unachievable.

No more giving up and setting unreasonable goals. You will succeed, and here is how: 

 

The Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro technique is a timer that you can use on your computer or mobile device that enhances your productivity and commitment to a single task. It incorporates small breaks throughout your day while training you to focus. 

No more irresistible self-interruptions and doing three things at once. 

We were resistant to trying the Pomodoro Technique ourselves until we did, and our work ethic skyrocketed! 

 

The Benefits Of The Pomodoro Timer 

  1. Helps Resist All Self-Interruptions 
  2. Re-train Your Brain To Focus 
  3. Be More Productive In Your Work 
  4. Create A Sense Of Urgency In Your Work 

 

Here is how it works (remember what we said- don’t run before you can walk): each 25 minute Pomodoro timer is dedicated to a single task. Twenty-five minutes may seem like an absurd amount of time, but it is the ideal to help you not procrastinate. 

Followed by a five-minute break to give you a chance to reset and bring your attention back to what you should be doing. Taking conscious breaks throughout the day is far more productive than following your mind each time it wants to cling to something else. 

Such as your Instagram feed. 

Taking many five-minute breaks can also seem daunting and counterproductive. So we made a list of five things you can do on your five-minute breaks. Remembering to find joy in smaller moments is vital to our mental health and  overall happiness.  

 

5 Things To Do During Your Break 

  1. Five-minute stretch! 
  2. Quick clean up, you can finally wash that cup in the sink you’ve been staring at all day!
  3. Go outside, soak up the sunshine and get some fresh air. 
  4. Meditate or listen to a motivational song. 
  5. Clean your phone and glasses. 

 

The Pomodoro gives you plenty of ideas on how to spend your breaks and using your time wisely. The next step is to start, give this a shot, and see how it works for you. Twenty-five minutes is not a long time to commit in one sitting, and you’ll notice a significant boost in your work ethic and grab control of your days.

Work from home stretch break for improved health

Let’s Wrap Things Up

As we bring this blog to a close, we hope it was able to provide you with golden nuggets that will enhance your work ethic, free up your to-do list, and most importantly, build a habit of stretching every day.

Remember, the goals are supposed to be attainable. Otherwise, you put yourself on the line for giving up. Start with a single stretch for two-minutes and work your way up. You can’t say no to doing a single exercise per day for two-minutes; hence the likelihood of you succeeding is high. 

The overall goal is to build a habit out of stretching and stick to it. The benefits are remarkable on your body, and the secret is to be consistent. However, we can’t be consistent if we jump the gun. 

In this case, we want to build a strong foundation. One Pomodoro timer at a time, one break at a time, a single stretch at a time, and slowly work your way up. We have to stretch our minds so they, too, can commit. 

Mariya Chebotarova Councelor & Writer
Mariya Chebotarova
I am on a mission to empower the hearts of others to do the hard work on themselves, and live a more fulfilling life.

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