When in Doubt – Stretch it Out

Think about your day. What activity do you spend most of your time doing? Are you staring at a screen(s) for multiple hours? Are you sitting? Standing? Are you stooped over a work table or are you bustling about a restaurant?

No matter what your professional set up is, chances are your body is spending a good deal of its time in the same posture. Regardless as to what the posture is, any body that is not moving around on the regular, is going to experience discomfort. If you are so zoned into your work that you don’t notice your discomfort, you will notice it later.

For individuals who work in traditional workplaces - with a desk, chair, computer set up, the recent answer has been to get a standing desk and stand all day. If there is one thing you take away from this article, it is that overcompensation is never the answer. Standing all day is no better for you than sitting all day is. And that’s a fact.

So what’s one to do? The simple answer is to stretch out regularly.

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The body is a constantly moving ecosystem. The reptilian part of our brain takes care of the communication between our vital organs. Our bodies are most happy when our blood can flow freely from one end to the other. When our bodies are in a stagnant or locked position (which happens when you are standing and hunching, or locking back into your knees), our body’s inner circulatory system becomes compromised.

The quickest solution to the woefully uninspired workplace setups most of us experience, is to arm yourself with a series of simple stretches to perform once every 45 minutes. This may sound drastic – but please don’t worry, I am not asking you to launch into a full-on yoga practice.

At the beginnings of every CFB program, I take my clients through a series of stretches all designed to alleviate tension, increase blood flow and overall body awareness. These stretches are all subtle – meaning you can do them while standing, or seated in your office or home, you can even do many of them on the go.

Starting with your head and moving through every joint, there is a circular movement you can execute which will increase your body’s mobility while activating your circulatory system in a way that actually helps your cognitive functions. Drop me a line if you are curious to learn more.

When your body feels free and smooth, as opposed to clunky and stuck, you free up your full focus; ideas and energy are yours for the taking.

To finish, here are a couple pro-tips:

-       Set a timer to buzz every 45 minutes. Every time it goes off, do one or two stretches to get your body back into the picture.

-       Pay attention to how much time you are spending in prolonged periods of the same posture. If you can, move from seated to standing, or go for a short walk every hour.

Start with these two simple things and I promise you, your body and your brain will thank you for this relatively small effort, that will reap massive rewards.  

Rachel Cossar