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How to correctly stretch at your desk

stretching at workWe’ve all felt it. After hours of staring at the computer, your neck and shoulders tense up, your breathing becomes ridiculously shallow, and your energy takes a nosedive (as does your resolve to go to yoga).

Instead of throwing your shoulders back and pulling your neck from side to side trying to find some relief, we asked Hope Gillerman, a certified Alexander Technique teacher (and founder of H. Gillerman Organics) to clue us in on the proper way to relieve tension. We learned how a couple of the right stretches can turn you from a gnarly pile of knots back into a much perked up and productive person. If not a poster child for near-perfect posture.

Three tension-relieving desk stretches (and a piece of advice):

1. Stretch your sides. It might not be the first area you think needs attention, but stretching your interstitial or breathing muscles along your sides is the best thing to do if you’re feeling stiff and depleted of energy, says Gillerman. “Tight muscles equal shallow breath.” Hold your left wrist with your right hand. Stretch your arms out in front of you, then up above your head. With your right hand, lift your left arm up until you feel your whole left side getting longer. Lean to your right to increase the stretch. Take five deep breaths, then relax both arms by your sides before repeating on the other side.

Hope Gillerman
Hope Gillerman helps cure the ergonomically impaired

2. Open your hips. Slouching and sinking? Give your tired hip flexors and piriformis a stretch, “so you can get back up on your actual sitting bones and lift your back while seated,” says Gillerman. Sit in a chair with both feet firmly planted on the floor. Place your right ankle on top of your left knee and drop your right knee towards the floor to gently open your right hip. Hold for a few breaths before repeating on the left.

3. Release your (pain in the) neck. To stretch your neck, slowly drop your chin to the notch between your collar bones; hold for 5 exhales. Then lift your chin to the ceiling. (You should feel your throat stretch.) Make 5 small clockwise circles with your chin, and then reverse to loosen the neck. To release related shoulder tension, clasp your hands behind your back and slowly roll your shoulders up and back several times.

4. Disconnect. If nothing else, Gillerman recommends taking some sort of break at least once an hour to detach yourself from your computer, even if it’s just to use the loo or peak out the window (if you’re lucky enough to have one).

For an appointment at your office or hers, contact Hope Gillerman, Alexander Technique teacher, 32 Union Square E., Suite 615N, 888-344-3111,,

Got a few deskside de-stressors to add to ours? Tell us, here!