Interview: Workplace Stretches from Gaylene Thoeny

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

In office jobs, we are often in positions that are unnatural to our bodies – most often we’re hunched forward sitting at a desk. Even just everyday bad posture can add up to put stress and strain on our bodies. Compounded over time this can eventually cause injury and damage. By stretching on a regular basis we can avoid injuries. We interviewed Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer, Gaylene Thoeny, to learn about stretches we can do in the workplace.

Tips for safe stretching:

  • Move slowly & smoothly.
  • Take nice deep breaths throughout – be conscious of not holding your breath.
  • You should be able to feel a stretch, but if you feel pain, stop immediately!
  • Hold all stretches for 30 seconds each, or longer, repeating a minimum of two times.
  • If the stretch is repetitive work with your breath, moving on the inhale and the exhale.
  • If you have a neck or back injury please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or stretch routine.

4 Easy Stretches You Can Do At Work

#1- Shoulder Rolls

Purpose: To relax and warm-up the shoulder muscles, reduce shoulder stiffness and to improve posture.

1.)    Start standing up nice and tall, feet hip width apart, eyes facing forward

2.)    Inhale shoulders up towards the ears

3.)    Exhale shoulders backwards in a circular motion

4.)    Repeat steps 2 & 3 a minimum of 5 times

5.)    Change direction and roll shoulders forward 5 more times

#2- Chest Expansion with forward fold

Purpose: To stretch the shoulders, chest muscles, hamstrings and back

1.)    Start standing up nice and tall, feet hip width apart, eyes facing forward

2.)    Inhale and reach back behind the body, palms facing each other, imaging you are holding a giant beach ball behind your back

3.)    Holding the pose inhale & exhale into the open chest, squeezing shoulder blades together

4.)    Clasp hands together behind back if possible (or use a strap or towel to hold hands together)

5.)    Bending the knees slightly, hinge at the hips and relax the top of the head towards the floor

6.)    Pushing the hands up towards the ceiling & relaxing the top of the head towards the floor, take a few more deep breaths

7.)    Release the arms towards the floor

8.)    Slowly starting at the base of the back roll up towards the ceiling, vertebrae by vertebrae

9.)    Inhaling the top of the head up towards the ceiling, at standing take a few more deep breaths

#3- Gentle Spinal Twist

Purpose: For stretching, lengthening and opening through the middle & upper back. This will also increase blood flow through the spinal cord creating a healthier back.

1.)    From standing, walk the legs open to shoulder width apart or slightly wider, with knees and toes pointed out towards the side at approximately a 45 degree angle.

2.)    Bring your arms out from the sides of your body slightly

3.)    Keeping your belly button pointing forwards gently swing the arms from side to side

4.)    Inhaling the crown of the head up towards the ceiling while rotating through the middle & upper back

5.)    Repeat 8 to 10 times

#4- Gentle Hip Circles

Purpose: For stretching, lengthening and opening through the hips and lower back

1.)    From standing, walk the legs open to shoulder width apart or slightly wider, with knees and toes pointed out towards the side at approximately a 45 degree angle

2.)    Bringing your hands to your hips

3.)    Taking nice deep breaths draw nice big circles with your hips in one direction, once your hips feel open change directions and go the opposite way

4.)    For fun you can also draw figure 8’s with your hips in both directions

Gaylene runs Grounding Fitness, which offers Virtual Yoga Training, Yoga Workshops and Personal Training.



Contributor: Kelly Neufeld

Kelly Neufeld is a freelance writer who lives in Abbotsford with her husband and their two daughters. In addition to writing articles for the Fraser Valley Pulse, Kelly is a contributing writer & Marketing Coordinator for Impowerage Magazine. She enjoys spending time with her family, staying active and shopping.



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