Take a Break

When I am not behind the massage table at Tranquil Space I am a nurse working at a DC public health clinic. Like many of my massage clients, I spend several hours at the computer, so I understand the common complaints of tension in the neck, shoulders and back. I encourage people to set a timer on their desks set for at least every thirty minutes. This is a reminder to take time to stretch, help relieve tension and prevent injuries from the cumulative effects of the bent over posture of our computer age.

Recently, my clinic installed an energy saving device that shuts off the lights in my office every 20 minutes if no motion is detected. Apparently my lightening speed typing is not enough to trip the sensor, so I find myself in the dark quite often. The first few times I found this annoying. An old quote came back to me: “It’s better to light one flame than to curse the darkness.” These words have nspired me at more challenging times in life but in this instance, it encouraged me to follow my own advice and stretch at these perfectly timed intervals. (sometimes I already have a candle lit and enjoy the stretch break by candle light.)

The following are some simple desk stretches I do. I encourage you to incorporate these or ones you already find helpful into a regular habit at your desk. Of course, stretch only as far as is comfortable and stop if it causes pain.

1. Neck release: Drop your chin to your chest as you exhale. Inhale and slowly
let one ear drop to that shoulder. Exhale and roll your chin to your chest. Inhale and roll your opposite ear to its shoulder. Exhale and return to your chest. Repeat as desired.

2. Shoulder rolls: Breathe in and out slowly as you first roll your shoulders forward several times then backward several times. Breathe in and raise tops of shoulders towards your ears and hold 5 seconds. Breathe out while relaxing shoulders to neutral. Repeat. Breathe out slowly as you return your shoulders back to neutral. Repeat.

3. Spine stretch: Raise your arms overhead. Stretch one arm toward the ceiling and hold. Relax. Repeat with opposite arm. Alternate several times.

4. Upper Body stretch: Inhale and lightly clasp your hands behind your head without pushing your head forward and avoid any pressure to the neck; elbows are pointing to the sides. Exhale and very slowly twist your upper body as one unit in one direction and hold for two seconds. Inhale and return to center. Exhale and repeat twist to opposite side.

5. Back tension release: Push your chair away from the desk by stretching your arms forward and resting your hands on the desk, Exhale and lower your head while arching your back, (making sure to protect your back by pulling your belly button towards your spine.) Relax a moment with head down. Inhale and raise your head and chest , arching your back in the other direction. Repeat.
6. Smile


I honor the place in you where
the entire universe resides.
I honor the place in you of love, of light, of peace.
I honor the place within where if you are in that place in you
and I am in that place in me
There is only one of us

Rae Johnson is a licensed massage therapist and sees clients in the Spa at Tranquil Space. To book an appointment call us at 202.328.9642.

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