The continuous forward leaning posture many people adopt while sitting in an office chair has serious consequences for more than just the back and spinal column. It also places a burden on the internal organ systems, digestive system, and lungs when the front of the body is compressed by hunching forward for long periods of time2.
Stretch breaks are absolutely essential to open up the front of the body and create renewed tissue circulation and joint mobility. The Reverse Arch Stretch was specifically developed to quickly counteract negative spinal, shoulder, wrist, finger and organ system effects from forward hunching computer posture2. The stretch only takes a few seconds to do and has an immediate benefit anyone can feel.
As with any stretch, when doing the reverse arch stretch it is important to take your time and listen to your body while doing it. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop doing the stretch. Always listen to the signals your body sends you. Practice makes perfect, so even if the stretch feels a bit awkward at first it will soon become easier to do and a welcome part of the work day routine.
Reverse Arch Stretch
- Move to the front of the chair and if possible interlace your fingers behind the back and feel the palms touching each other. There will be a stretch feeling in the front of the chest and shoulders when doing this. (If bringing the palms together is too difficult, an easier alternative is to clasp the hands together using just the fingers and not the palms). See Figure 3.
- Once the proper hand position has been established, take a deep breath in and let the shoulders move even further backwards, letting the head fall back as well (this opens up the front of the neck).
- Now exhale all the air, feeling the front of your body open up as you extend backwards. See Figure 4.
- Hold this position for a few deep breaths if it feels comfortable to do so.
- To get out of the stretch SLOWLY bring your head back up to ensure that you do not strain your neck.
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Only stretch back as much as you're comfortable with. Over time you'll feel that you are able to get deeper into this stretch, extending back even further with minimal effort.
Doing the Reverse Arch Stretch while standing provides additional opening benefit to the buttock and pelvis as well. Ideally it is best to practice the stretch both while seated in an office chair and while standing.
The ‘opening’ feeling you’ll experience in your body afterwards is the direct result of increased blood flow, reduced organ system tension, enhanced spinal motion and relaxed muscle tone that the Reverse Arch Stretch creates.
As with the other techniques discussed in this article, this simple office chair stretch is effective, easy to do, and easily empowers you to take better care of yourself.
In addition to this stretch, it is best to stand and walk around every half hour. A brisk walk helps get the circulation going, bringing oxygen and nourishment throughout the structures of the body.
- Bergqvist U, Wolfgast E, Nilsson B, Voss M (1995b). The influence of VDT work on musculoskeletal disorders. Ergonomics; 38(4):754-762
- Based on the clinical experience and observations of this article’s author, Dr. Michael A. Cohen.