Have you been staring at a computer screen for hours screenwriting or editing, and now your muscles are stiff?! Never fear! Here are some stretches that I find helpful after working for long hours in front of a computer.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional, these are merely some stretches that have helped me. Go slow, don’t over-strain yourself, and stop if you feel pain. The reader assumes all risks when doing these stretches. Oh, and I made up the names. So if you say, “Do the Door Frame, Baby!” and people look at you oddly, it’s because they haven’t read this article.
An asterisk ( * ) means this stretch can be done while sitting, if you need a really quick stretch break.
I generally hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.
Neck Pull *
Reach your hand over your head, and place it just above the ear. Pull gently to the side to stretch your neck muscles. Do this on both sides. This will relieve the tension that has built up in the sides of your neck while staring at a screen for hours.
Under Bite Stretch *
Place your hand under the opposite collarbone, and rest your other hand on top of it. Look up and away from your hands. This will stretch your jaw and front-neck muscles. To make things even more effective, give yourself an under bite. You’ll look funny, but it’ll feel great! Repeat on the other side.
ARMS AND SHOULDERS
Yoga Arms *
Hold your arms at a 90 degree angle in front of you, so your biceps are parallel to the floor. Cross one elbow over the other, like in the first picture. Twist your hands to lock them in place, as shown in the second picture. This should stretch your shoulder blades, and a bit underneath, and it’s a great antidote to slouch stiffness. If you don’t feel anything, try raising your elbows. Repeat with the other elbow on top.
Door Frame, Baby!
Stand up. Again, hold your arm so your elbow is level with your shoulder and your hand is pointed straight up. Rest your forearm on a door-frame or wall, and gently turn away from your arm. Look in the opposite direction to your hand. This stretches out the inside of your shoulder and, like Yoga Arms, combats the slouch. Do this on both sides.
Bow To Your Desk
Stand up, about a pace away from your desk. Lean forward, lay your hands on the desk, and gently press your torso toward the floor. This will stretch your shoulders, and probably your leg muscles too. If not, try moving further back from your desk, or find a lower surface like a chair.
FINGERS AND HANDS
Evil Fingers *
Spread your fingers out at chest level, and steeple your fingers. Make a villain gesture, like you’re ready to take over the world. Press your hands together gently. You should feel the stretch in your fingers. If that’s not working, drop your hands lower so you look like a praying villain. This will help keep your typing or editing fingers loose and limber.
Pray for Inspiration *
Put your fingers all together, like you’re ready for a karate chop. Place your palms together at chest level, fingers pointing to the ceiling. Drop your wrists, keeping your palms pressed together. This should stretch your fingers, wrists and forearms, which often get tired from all that mouse-moving and key tapping.
Rag Doll Flop
Stand up. Bend from the waist, and let yourself go floppy. This will stretch out your back and maybe your legs too. Relax and hang loose for a bit. Your legs will be glad to stand, and the rest of your muscles will be glad to have a break from holding you upright.
I’m Trying To Ballet
Clasp your arms together, raise them over your head, and lean backwards. This will stretch out your back and tummy, and depending on how far you lean back, your shoulders. It feels amazing after sitting down for hours.
My favourite stretches from this list are Yoga Arms, I’m Trying to Ballet, Evil Fingers, and Door Frame, Baby!
I pretty much never do all the stretches at once, just two or three that work the areas I feel most stiff.
Now go take a break and stay flexible!
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