Flexibility in your upper body is important for many everyday activities you take for granted, like twisting and turning while backing out of a parking space. Try these three stretches to help keep your upper body agile. They don’t require any special equipment and can even be done in your office.
Neck stretch: Do this easy stretch either standing or sitting in a chair. Slowly turn your head to the left until you feel a slight pull. Make sure the position feels comfortable, but don’t tilt your head forward or backward. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, return to center and repeat to the right, again holding for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat the full movement three times.
Shoulder and arm stretch: Next, grab a small towel. Raise your right arm over your head, holding the towel so that it falls along the center of your back. Grab the other end of the towel with your left hand and slowly tug until you feel a slight stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat three to five times, then switch hands and repeat.
Wall walk: “Walking” up a wall with your hands stretches your chest. Stand facing a wall, with your legs and arms shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, walk your hands up the wall until they’re above the level of your head. Hold arms overhead for 10 to 30 seconds, then slowly move them back down. Repeat three to five times.
Whenever you stretch, keep these pointers in mind: Never bounce. This can cause muscles to tighten and lead to injury. Ease into every stretch with slow, steady movement. And stretch only when your body is warm — after a workout is perfect, but to do these at work, just take a three-minute walk first.
The American Council on Exercise has more stretching exercises that can be done anywhere, including at your desk.