Photo of me by Chris Eckert
I write a lot for work, which means I’m on the computer a lot. One way I’ve found to stay productive is to regularly push back from my computer to do a minute or two of simple stretches. Our brains not only need the break, our other parts need it as well. Have you ever found yourself breaking from the computer task at hand to quickly (and mindlessly) make a social media lap? If you're already breaking away then you've already found the timespace for an at-your-desk, low profile movement that will make you and your work ultimately better.
Last year Prevention magazine featured five of my exercises and while I love them all, this one is really my favorite. (Ok, so maybe the Pelvic List is also a favorite.)
How to do a Thoracic Stretch:
- Place your hands on the back of a chair, counter, desktop, or wall.
- With your hands in place, walk backward to lower your chest toward the floor.
- With your feet pelvis width and pointing forward, back your hips up until they're behind your ankles. Bend your knees to take tight hamstrings out of the upper-body equation OR keep the legs straight to add a stretch to the hamstrings and calves.
- After you've done this a few times, rotate your elbows toward the ground for even more shoulder movement!
You can find a few more instructions on the Thoracic Stretch in the Prevention article (adapted from Don't Just Sit There).
My favorite thing about this move is you can control how much and where in your body you move. Only want to move your upper back? Don't worry about arm position. Want to move your shoulders more? Add the arm rotation and adjust your ribcage position (Drop. Your. Ribs. which is really Lift. Your. Ribs. in this position, but you get it. Or if you don't, see Diastasis Recti for more). Want to add your hamstrings and calf muscles? Straighten your legs, both or one at a time. The Thoracic Stretch is so dynamic! Just like you are.
Find the move above and four other moves on the My Hands Hurt DVD/download. Or, if you want all these moves plus a few others for each main area of the body, check out our Movement Multivitamin, which has 18 different movements to play with. If you want deeper instruction on all of them, check out our Nutritious Movement Improvement course.