A with paper in front of the window with mindfulness print

Stretching routine to stay healthy and productive at home

At home, at your office, or at your coworking space, stretching should be part of your daily routine. Technologies and modern work push us to remain long hours sitting in front of a computer. This lack of movement has become one of the main factors of back pain and injuries that also negatively impact your energy, motivation and productivity.

Studies have shown that stretching (along with a healthy and active life-style) helps prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorder and injuries (related to bones, muscles and joints). It will take you 5 to 10 minutes and will help you  preserve your back. Give it a try! 

This routine is inspired by the Stretch & Release training hosted every week at La Vaca (the class is accessible online during the confinement period). This class – designed by Roberta Ruggiero, professional dancer passionate about movements, inspired by her work, practice and experience – is based on breathing and stretching exercises, muscle strengthening flows and floor work techniques, to help us improve posture and elasticity. (You can also read our post about body mindfulness)

Here are 6 stretching exercises that you can easily practice at home:  

1 – Breathing 

A young woman breathing deeply in front of the window.

The only thing you can control when things get stressful at work. Meetings, deadlines, the Internet is not working, your client is not satisfied, kids are noisy…

5 x repetitions

  • Breathing deeply through the belly and chest to help you relax. 
  • Inhale deeply through the nose pushing your belly out 
  • Then keep inhaling pushing the air up into your chest and stay here for 5 seconds
  • Exhale through the nose pushing your chest down and your belly inside. 

2- Shoulder unlock 

To discharge the tension you accumulated sitting in front of your laptop working hard on your projects…

5 x repetitions

  • Inhale deeply putting your shoulders up drawing a front circle, with the arms remaining alongside the body 
  • Exhale, drop your shoulder down in one fast movement  
  • Then repeat the same exercise the other way, 5 repetitions with a back circle with your shoulders

3-  Neck 

Your energy needs to flow freely in order for you to be creative, be able to think and use 100% of your potential. Don’t let your hard work been slowed down by a neck pain…

5 to 10 seconds each

  • First mobilise your neck moving slowly from one side to the other. 
  • Then move front and back. 

5 to 10 seconds each

Next, place your right arm over your head, placing your hand over your left ear and start stretching your neck gently. To take stretch deeper, keep your left arm down straight and flex your hand (with the back of your hand facing up)

Then repeat the exercise on the other side.

4- Spine twist

The best feeling ever I promise! Get this back twisted and stretched…

Maintain position 10 to 20 seconds

  • You sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor. 
  • First inhale watching front and when you exhale, gently rotate your torso to the left without moving your hips. 
  • You can help you with the handles and/or the back of the chair to get a deeper stretch. 
  • Stay here for a few breathing in and out and release going back to the neutral position.

Then repeat the exercise on the right.  

5- Fingers mobilisation 

This might be the last part of your body your stretch but remember those long emails you wrote, those reports, typing all day long…

  • Put both arms straights in front of you with closed fists.
  • Start to slowly open your hands finger by finger starting with the pinky and close it back starting with your thumbs. 
  • Repeat it several times going a little faster every time until you reach a point where you can literally start shaking your hands.

Here feel free to unlock your movements, you can move your fingers freely, shake your hands, arms and shoulder.

6 – Back and legs

Woman doing backs and legs excercises

A last stretch to get ready to go back to work, finish your next task and think about your future projects…

3 repetitions, 10 – 20 second each

Nothing better than a good “downward facing dog”, one of the basic yoga poses. This is a floor position.

  • Simply go to a plank position and place your hips up. 
  • Your wrists, elbows and shoulders should be aligned. If you are not flexible enough just keep your leg slightly bended. It is important that your back remain flat  and long and your feet flat on the floor.
  • From here take a few breaths in and out and try to feel the stretch in your back and legs.
  • To rest from this position, switch to an upward facing dog simply going back to the plank position then lay on the floor, place both hands next to your chest and exhale, lifting your upper body up. 
  • Here you should feel a nice stretch in your belly and chest and a nice relaxation sensation in your back. 

Stretching only won’t make you be more productive. You need to adopt a healthy and active life-style, practice sport, eat properly, etc. However, including a stretching routine in your schedule will help you keep a healthy back, improve your general mood and force you to avoid the permanent sitting position.
When you work from home or at the office, it is really important to use good ergonomic furniture. In 2.0 offices and most coworking spaces, you have the possibility to use different work stations during the day which allows you to stay active. At home, you should definitely try to do the same (If you home-office for the  first time, have a look at our article 4 steps to work from home efficiently). A good chair when you work at your desk, stand working, when you have a call for example, half an hour in your sofa. Keep moving