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A good stretch

(New Straits Times) -- To prevent damage to the spine, muscles and body, you can do some simplestretching and exercises -- even in the office.

The routines below are simple and adapted from yoga exercises designedspecifically for the muscles and joints most overused by office routine.

Choose a few to do for five minutes every hour and perform them as timepermits.

1. Sit up tall in your chair, or if possible, stand up.

Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers, then turn the palms to theceiling.

Take a deep breathe in and on the exhale extend your side torso and take the tips of the shoulder blades into the body.

Take another deep breathe and on the exhale stretch to the right, inhale come up and exhale stretch to the left.

2. On an inhale, lift your shoulders up to your ears and then exhale and let them drop.

Repeat three times.

Contract the trapezius muscle fully when you lift your shoulders up and then on the drop it will release more completely.

3. Stand (or sit at your desk) with your feet planted firmly on the ground.

Inhale and raise the arms out to the side, palms down.

Exhale and rotate the palms up, rolling the shoulders back.

Take an inhale and on the exhale, bend the elbows in toward the waist.

Inhale and on the exhale bring the palms to the belly.

This exercise helps to open the chest and extend the upper back.

4. Take your hands behind your back and interlock the fingers, stretching the shoulders back, opening the chest.

Take several breaths.

Make sure that your head stays in the mid-line and that your eye gaze is on the horizon.

5. Stand by the wall, extend your right arm and place the palm on the wall with the fingers up.

On an exhale, turn your chest away, taking the shoulder blade into the torso.

6. Stand by your desk and place your palms on the desk top with the fingers pointing toward your body.

Gently stretch the lower arm and wrist.

7. Wrap the right arm around the torso and place your right hand on the left shoulder with the elbow at chest height and facing forward.

Put your left hand on the right elbow and on an exhale, stretch it toward the left, opening between the shoulder blades.

Hold for several breaths and then release.

Repeat on the other side.

8. Reach the right arm into the air and on an exhale bend the elbow and reach your fingers down the back, between the shoulder blades.

Place the left hand on the elbow and on an exhale gently pull the elbow to the left.

Relax the ribs and hold for several breaths.

Release and repeat on the other side.

9. Hug your arms around your chest and then put one elbow underneath the other, the hand facing toward each other and fingers to the ceiling.

Exhale and slowly raise the arms so that the elbows come up to the height of the shoulder, keep the shoulders down.

Repeat on the other side.

10. Sit in your chair and pull back away from the desk, resting your palms on the desk top and extend your side torso.

Lift the ribs up, let the shoulder blades slide towards the desk, make sure the head is extendedfrom the spine with the chin towards the chest.

11. Sit on your chair, feet planted firmly on the floor, sitting bones pressing into the chair.

Extend the side torso, and twist to the right (on an exhale), one hand on back to chair, one hand on the side of the chair.

Hold for a few breaths and then repeat the other side.

12. Sit forward on your chair and open the legs a little wider than the hips.

Lean forward from the hips and drop your torso down.

Let the head and arms hang down toward the floor.

13. Sit upright in your chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground.

Press your sitting bones down into the chair and extend the side torso.

Relax your shoulders.

Place your palms on your knees and spread the fingers wide.

Take a deep breath in and on the exhale extend your tongue to your chin; focus your eyes to your nose.

Inhale and bring the tongue back into the mouth.

Exhale and stick the tongue out again and this time focus the eyes up to your forehead. Repeat 3 times.

14. Sit upright on chair, relax your shoulders and extend the side torso up.

Relax your facial muscles, the jaw and tongue.

Circle the eyes clockwise 8 times and counter-clockwise 8 times.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few slow breaths.

(c) 2001 New Straits Times

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