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Every employee wants to be productive and efficient at work. There are days where one will be motivated to finish all tasks in one go, but also, there are days where one will feel like it’s an absolute struggle to even do one task, let alone finish an entire list of it. This feeling is very common, and there are several factors that contribute to it.
One of the factors that can hamper productivity at work is sitting for too long and not moving as often as one should. Prolonged sitting can cause a host of health issues, both physically and mentally, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, muscle ache, stress, and more. When our muscles feel stiff and sore, we end up feeling uncomfortable, not having the energy to do anything, and therefore lowering productivity. Worry not though, for there are ways to counter this.
One of the best ways to get a boost of energy and productivity at work is to do stretches. It’s understandable that most office workers don’t have much time to exercise due to busy schedules. By doing simple stretches throughout the day, you can encourage movement and get your blood flowing, allowing you to stay creative and work more efficiently. In this article, we’ve listed out some stretches that you can do at work to improve your mind and body. Try them out!
Stretch The Day: The Importance of Stretching in the Workplace
You may be thinking that stretching is something that only athletes or physically active people do, but that’s not the truth at all. Actually, every person needs to stretch daily. Stretch exercises allow the muscles to maintain flexibility and strength. Flexibility allows us to maintain the range of motion in the joints, such as the neck, wrists, fingers, back, legs, and the like. Without this range of motion, the muscles shorten and become tight, turning weak and unable to extend. This limited mobility puts any person at a risk for joint pain, strains, muscle damage, and more.
When we sit continuously for eight hours or more at the office, our muscles become sore and tight, making it difficult for us to move. We end up developing muscle strains, shoulder aches, back aches, and the like. When we experience body pain, we also lose our ability to be focused and productive at work. By doing stretches regularly, we can improve not only our muscles, but our overall well-being too.
What Are The 10 Stretching Exercises That Boost Productivity?
Simple Exercises You Can Do Sitting or Standing at Your Desk
Doing numerous stretches overnight won’t magically give you the perfect flexibility. Instead, it’s important to do stretches every day and remain committed to the process. Once you start doing stretches and maintain your pace, not only will you be flexible, but you’ll also feel less soreness and pain, allowing you to use your body and mind in the most optimal manner, and hence improving your overall well-being.
If you’re starting to feel tired, unmotivated, and unproductive at work, here are just some of the office stretches that you can do to refresh both your muscles and mind, as well as spring your energy back to life.
This can offer a great release for your back, neck, and shoulders. Sit in your chair while keeping a long, tall spine, and place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Use that hand as a leverage to twist to your left. Next, place your left hand as far to the right as possible so that you have something to hold on to while you twist.
Exhale as you move into your twist, and then inhale as you return to center. To do this on the opposite side, simply place your hand on your right knee and twist your right. You can repeat this for about 2 to 3 times on each side.
Seated Hip Stretch
To do this one, begin by sitting towards the middle of your chair, your feet flat on the floor. Place one ankle on the opposite knee and sit tall. Try to maintain a straight back and then tilt forward at the waist until you feel a stretch. Repeat with the other leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Sitting for extended periods can shorten and tighten your hip flexors. Here’s one exercise that you can do to lengthen this muscle. To do this, sit at the edge of your chair but shift to face to your left. Next, take your right leg, extending it behind you with a straight knee as you can. Sit tall, lift your sternum, and try to tuck your tailbone under to deepen the stretch. Repeat on the other side, and then repeat on both sides for 2 to 3 times.
This stretch not only offers great release in the hips, but it can also help create stability in the knee joint. For starters, sit on the edge of your chair and place your right ankle over your left knee. Make sure that your left foot is directly under your left knee and flat on the floor. Sit nice and tall as if the crown of your head is pulled up towards the ceiling. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, and then do the same thing on the opposite side. You can do this 2 to 3 times on each side.
Chest and Shoulder Opener
This one is aimed to loosen up the chest muscles, as well as alleviate some upper back pain. Start by sitting on the edge of your chair and then clasp your hands behind your back, opening up your chest and shoulders. Inhale and exhale several times. Notice that when you inhale, your stretch increases. Release, and do it again for 2 to 3 times.
Set your seat aside for this one. Start on your knees, and then bring one leg forward so that your knee is at a right angle, Stretch your other leg back with your shin on the floor. Next, lean forward slightly to feel the stretch. Do the same pose and extension with the opposite leg.
You can do this one just before sitting down or getting up. While standing, soften your right knee and extend your left leg in front of you, your heel on the floor. On your left leg, draw your toes upwards, keeping your knee slightly bent so that you don’t strain your ligaments. Hold the pose for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite side. You can repeat it for 2 to 3 times on each side.
If you slouch for hours in front of your desk, your shoulders will eventually feel tight. To release this tension, begin by standing straight with your left shoulder next to a wall. Next, extend your left arm straight up, with your palm facing the wall. Move your arm down behind you slowly, as if you were moving through each hour on a clock. Turn, and do the same thing with your right arm.
Wrist and Shoulder Release
Typing and clicking away can lead to carpal tunnel disorder. To avoid the risk of repetitive strain injury, here’s an exercise that you can do. For your wrists, you can extend one of your arms out, palm up. Next, gently pull your fingers down with the back of your left hand if you choose to extend your right one (or vice versa.) Switch hands, and do the same thing.
Another wrist release exercise that you can is to stand up and place your wrists on the desk, facing away from you. Apply pressure until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for a few seconds, and then follow with wrist circles.
As for your shoulders, extend your arms straight out in front of you and interlace your fingers. Turn your hands palm out, gently raise your arms overhead, and stretch.
Single Leg Squat
Get your blood circulating with this one. Start by standing tall on one leg, while your other leg is extended out in front of you. Next, slowly lower yourself into a seated squat position. Do the same thing on the other side.
More Office Stretches to Boost Work Efficiency
If the ones we listed above aren’t enough or simply don’t address the relief that you’re reaching for, here are more stretches for you to try out. Similar to the others in this article, these exercises can be done either in your seat by standing in front of your desk. They can also be done at any time; whether it’s your lunch break, a 5-minute break from a conference call, and the like. Have a go at it!
Stand several feet behind your seat and raise both arms overhead. Next, bend your upper half by hinging forward from your hips, keeping your back straight. Hold on to the back of your seat to keep yourself steady for a few seconds, and then rise back up to stand. Repeat as many times as you desire.
This one is a yoga pose that helps your spine and improves extension and flexion in your back. You might need a larger space to do this one. Start by positioning yourself in a tabletop pose, hands and knees on the floor, your spine neutral. Arch your back like a cat and gently drop your head, your chin to your chest, palms flat on the ground. This is the cat pose. Next, slowly lift your head as you allow your belly to sink, shoulders drawn away from your ears. This is the cow pose.
Back of the Legs
Being in one position for too long could reduce the ability for blood to circulate properly in your body, especially the legs. To avoid vascular issues in the legs and get your blood flowing, extend your legs as you remain seated. Next, reach down towards your toes, and hold the pose for a few seconds and rise back up once you’re done.
You don’t have to do these stretches all at once. You can try to take a stretch break from your desk every 45 minutes, or maybe choose several stretches to do through the course of your day. Remember, it’s important to be consistent; your brain and body will thank you for it.
If you feel pain or any discomfort through the duration of any stretch, always seek out a doctor for professional medical advice for the safety of your well-being. Stay healthy, stay safe!