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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Chest Stretch

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. View all columns in series
As we keyboard and mouse we often round our shoulders and reach forward. We may work like this for hours without ever stretching and lengthening our muscles. Sustaining this posture day after day can result in shortening the muscles of the chest, overusing the muscles of the upper back and neck, and over-stretching ligaments, which can be quite painful. Relax and loosen your muscles when you do a CHEST STRETCH.


A note of caution: if doing this stretch causes you pain, numbness or tingling then, stop; you may need to seek medical advice.

Sit comfortably erect (neutral) in your chair with your back fully supported. Place your feet shoulder width apart on the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your neck with your palms touching the bottom of your head and the top of your neck.

As you exhale, let your head drop down and curl forward while gently pressing your back into the chair. As you inhale, return to a neutral posture. Now, as you exhale reverse your posture by pulling your head and elbows backward while slightly arching your backfeel a gentle stretch of your chest. Make sure to use the chair back for support. Hold this position for two or three deep abdominal breaths during which you allow more stretch with each exhalation. Be gentle, not forceful.

On the next exhalation, curl and drop your head and elbows forward. Relax while keeping your hands interlaced behind your head and neck.

Repeat this cycle three times.

Optional: reverse the breathing pattern and inhale as you move from neutral (e.g., inhale when you curl forward and when you arch backward).

Repeat this or other movement practices many times during the day.

We thank Candy Frobish, OTR/CHT for her helpful suggestions with this tip.

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About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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