Sitting all day at my desk and working on my lappy and has brought about some aches and pains in my shoulders, neck and lower back. Some days, I almost cannot feel my numb derriere. If you are going through a similar situation, read on for an incredibly easy but effective 5-minute routine to do that will save your life and your back.
The Mayo Clinic in 2020 supports my painful realisation with an analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels. They found that those who chronically sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity in between had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.
The good news is, taking physical breaks in between working at the desk can be a life-saver, as the Mayo Clinic found analysis of data from more than 1 million people showed that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Another study found that sitting time didn’t cause detrimental effects for people who took time to have breaks and stay active.
Many people I know will take a short walk, go for prayer breaks and have lunch or a snack. Sometimes these breaks take too long, even up to more than an hour, which means so much time wasted when you are chasing a deadline. A study from University of Illinois, 2011 says that taking short breaks every hour is even more helpful in improving productivity, inspiring creativity and help you reassess and prioritize better.
Try these 5-minute dynamic yogic movements to release tension in your arms, shoulders, neck, pelvis and legs:
- Sufi Grinds. While sitting on a chair with your hands resting on your knees, start rotating your hips in a clockwise direction for 30 seconds. Breathe consciously while moving forward and backwards: Inhale forwards and exhale backwards. After that, change the direction of your rotation to anti-clockwise for another 30 seconds.
- Table Cat Cow. Stand up from your chair and rest your elbows and hands on your table. You will end up with your legs standing on the floor with your back straight and parallel to the table. Begin with an inhale and lift your head, neck and tail-bone while lowering your tummy. After that, exhale while curving your spine towards the ceiling, dropping your head and tailbone. Repeat this sequence for 1 minute and feel your lower back relax and ease up.
- Neck Rolls. Return to you chair and gently rotate you head in a clockwise direction for 30 seconds (on the inhale rotate forward and exhale backwards). Repeat for another 30 seconds in an anticlockwise direction.
- Shouder Shrugs. Sit on your chair with your hands resting on your knees. Inhale and raise your shoulders towards your ears . Then, exhale and drop your shoulders back to original position. Repeat this sequence for 1 minute.
- Finally, apply this simple self-massage technique: Bring your right hand to your left shoulder and rest it there comfortably, like you are giving yourself a pat on the back. Then use your fingertips to press the area. Keep pressing various sections of your shoulder all the way towards the back your neck and along your entire left shoulder. Switch sides and use your left hand for your right shoulder.
After taking a short break with this extremely simple but deeply impactful routine , I experienced so much relief in all the tight and sores spots mentioned. Of course, taking a walk is ideal and joining an online yoga class is even better. However, making time for a short 5-minute break every hour or two is better than nothing at all.