Having a desk job usually means you're sitting at that desk... a lot. This can cause back and neck pain, carpel tunnel, poor posture and poor circulation. It also means that when you are more active, you tend to wear out more easily, get more muscle soreness and may not have a good range of flexibility. Stretching can help to reduce the amount of pain you feel sitting at your desk and can improve your life overall.
What are some of the other benefits of stretching?
Stretching has many benefits. These include: improved posture, decreased risk of injury, improved blood supply to muscles, reduced fatigue and joint pain, release tension and stress and gives your body and mind a small break from the day-to-day routine. Stretching can also maintain or improve flexibility by elongating the connective tissues and muscle fibers, allowing you to have an increased range of motion.
Are there stretches I can do in the office?
Yes! In fact, most healthcare professionals recommend getting up to stretch about once an hour during the business day to keep the blood flowing and give yourself a small break. It can also help to refresh your mind, improve your memory and keep you feeling alert at your desk. Here's a few that I like to do every day while sitting at my desk:Holding one arm in front of you, point your fingers down and grab them with your other hand. Gently pull the fingers back towards you, creating a nice stretch in your arm. Do this for 10-15 seconds on one side, then do the other. This helps relieve muscle aches and pains associated with typing/using a keyboard.
The cross-body stretch: Take one arm and fold it across your body towards the opposite shoulder. Taking the free hand, grab your elbow and gently pull your crossing arm closer to your body. This helps to open up the shoulder and improve circulation to your arms.
The back twist: Planting both feet on the ground while sitting on the edge of your seat, slowly reach around and grab the back of your chair until you feel a nice stretch in your spine. From there, see how far you can look around to help extend the stretch to your shoulders and neck. Slowly release and come back to the middle, facing forward, before repeating the stretch on the other side.
Chest-opening stretch: Lean back in your chair and look at the ceiling. Take your arms and interlock your fingers, then "press" them, palms up, to the ceiling until you feel a pull in your wrists, chest and back. This helps prevent that "hunched shoulder" look you can get from sitting staring at a computer screen for too long!
Another simple one: Get up from your desk and stretch your legs! Do this about once an hour to keep your blood circulating and reduce stiffness in your legs and back. This also helps keep you alert and can even help you with things like writer's block or getting stuck on a problem. When going for lunch or a quick break, take a walk outside instead of sitting at your desk. You'll get fresh air, a bit of exercise, and if you happen to be speaking with a colleague there's a chance you'll remember the conversation better!
You can also use a standing desk or an exercise ball instead of the traditional chair. This helps to improve your balance, keep you alert and engage your muscles. Just be sure not to annoy your coworkers with it!
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