Short Work Breaks

Sitting at a desk job can zap energy quickly. Here are a few quick tips for 10 - 15 breaks that can help wake you up and keep your brain power going. Try one or two options from each category below to energize your body and mind during that mid-day slump. Add a big glass of water to the routine to give yourself an extra dose of stimulation.


Get your heart rate up:

Moving your body gets your blood flowing and pumps oxygen throughout the body and to the brain which is a quick way to wake up your mind and body.

1) Walk up and down several flights of stairs

2) Try some full body movements where you are using multiple muscle groups at once like planks, lunges, and squats

3) Speed walk to the copier, bathroom, or your next meeting

Self massage:

Keeping a few small props at your desk can make it easy to give yourself an assisted massage to release tension from your shoulders and back and help revitalize your body.

1) Use a tennis ball to release tension in the shoulders. Lean up against a wall and place a tennis ball on the inside of the shoulder blade between your body and the wall. Roll through any tight spots held in your shoulders caused from sitting too long or due to a tense day.

2) Use a foam roller to relax your back - foam rollers come in different sizes and a small 1 foot foam roller is a great size to keep at your desk. Place the foam roller perpendicular to your body and sit on it. Begin to walk your feet out and tuck your pelvis as you roll your back on the roller. Support the weight of your head with your hands and roll from the base of the spine up through the shoulder blades.


Stretch your hips and spine:

Humans are not meant to sit as much as we do because it stresses the spine and hips in a direction that is not anatomical healthy, leaving you feeling tired and achy. Taking a few minutes to stretch will alleviate achiness and leave you feeling refreshed.

1) Standing hip flexor - tight hip flexors are a common complaint and can cause lower back pain so stretch them frequently to help alleviate pain. Take a wide step with your right foot in front of your left and bend both knees to 90 degree angles. Tuck the pelvis under and hold. Reach your left arm up and over your head. Repeat other side.

2) Supported back bend - Place both hands at lower back and pull your navel to spine for support. Begin to arch the upper back up and over an imaginary beach ball.

3) Hamstrings - stand with your feet hip distance (or slightly wider). Nod your chin and begin to roll down towards the floor. Hang like a rag doll or take gentle swings right and left and shake your head yes and no. This position stretches the hamstrings, relaxes the neck and spine, and allows blood to rush to the head leaving you feeling invigorated.

4) Hip stretch - stand up and hold on to a back of a chair. Cross right ankle over your left knee and let the right knee flare open as you bend your left knee like you are sitting in a chair.

5) The foam roller works great on tight hips - Place the foam roller perpendicular to your body and sit on it. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Lean back into your right hand as you roll onto the meaty part of the glut. Play around with different angles and stay on the muscle, not the bony joint. Watch the video below to see how to use the foam roller.

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About the Author

Jennifer McCamish is the owner of Dancers Shape, a Pilates and barre fitness studio in Austin, Texas. A former NYC Radio City Rockette with over 30 years of dance experience and training from legendary institutes around the country, McCamish has worked or performed with many well-known celebrities, television shows and publications. Utilizing her professional knowledge and education, she created Dancers Shape, a unique approach to fitness, incorporating elements of ballet, yoga, Pilates and circuit training to efficiently build strength and muscle tone while maintaining a lean and nimble body. McCamish holds a BA in Dance from the University of Texas in Austin, Athletic Training in Injury Prevention for Dancers from Radio City Entertainment, is a STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor including Injuries and Special Populations, Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer, IDEA Fitness and Wellness member, and is certified in CPR-First Aid. She is a certified instructor including injuries, special populations and golf conditioning. Read more about Jennifer.