Do you find your shoulders, neck, back, hip, and entire body aching after sitting for long hours in front of your workstation? You’re definitely not alone in that. Most office workers feel these aches and pains due to some factors, such as sitting without breaks, dropping your head forward when working, and having a non-ergonomic desk and chair setup.
Don’t worry though — you don’t have to suffer these aches for eternity. These pains can definitely be reduced with stretching. Doing stretches even while you’re at your office desk can do you a lot of wonders. In this article, we listed down some stretches that can save your spine and more. Check them out!
Why Should Office Workers Stretch?
The majority, if not all of office workers spend their days sitting at a desk for hours, leading to pain, injury, and disability. Office workers are at risk of being afflicted with work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) because of workplace factors such as work postures and position, limited movements, repetitiveness at work, office furniture, and the like.
WSMDs include muscle injuries and aches, tendon injuries, and can even lead to nerve injuries. These WSMDs and other health risks can be reduced by doing office stretches.
How Often Should Office Workers Stretch?
It is recommended that office workers, or any person seated for long hours, take a break for 5 to 10 minutes for every hour spent at their workstation. Workers can take advantage of those 5 to 10-minute breaks by doing office stretches and hold each stretching position for a reasonable time. By doing these stretches, one can reduce muscle aches, eye strain, and even lower stress levels.
What are 5 Upper Body Stretches?
Take advantage of your lunch break or short work breaks by doing some of these upper body stretches. These stretches will release the tension build-up in your back and bring in blood circulation to that region. Even just a simple shoulder stretch can be a game changer. Here are some stretching programs that you can do:
Stretches for Shoulder Blades
To do this, begin by sitting tall in your seat. Draw an arm straight across your upper chest. Next, place your left hand on the upper backside of your other arm. Draw into your body to release the muscles. Repeat on the left side.
Downward Facing Dog Stretch
This pose releases tension from the upper and lower back, chest, and even the hamstring. To do this, sit upright with your feet flat on the floor. Next, raise your arms overhead and slowly lower your body, bending forward and keeping your arms straight on the desk with your palms face down. Hold this for about 5 seconds before slowly releasing.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
For this one, begin by setting one foot on a low desk, or a chair, or a stair step. Standing tall and keeping your chest high, hips square, and tailbone lifted, bend forward from your hips. With this, you can feel the stretch in the back knee or thigh.
The neck is a vital part of the body and doing a few neck stretches can absolutely help in reducing aches and pains of both the neck and shoulder. Begin by interlacing your fingers and cradling your hands behind your head. Apply a bit of pressure to the back of your head as you drop your chin toward the chest. Next, return to the neutral position and reach your left hand over your head, placing it above your right ear.
Bring your left ear toward your other shoulder while pulling gently with your hand so that you create a deeper stretch on the right side of your neck. Repeat on the other side.
Right and Left Shoulder Stretch Extension
For this stretch, simply stand up and stretch your arms behind you. Clasp your hands together and gently lift your arms to stretch. Hold the pose. With this, you should be able to feel your shoulders and muscles release some tension.
Other Office Stretches That You Can Do
A nice stretch can give the muscles some sort of relief. You don’t have to limit your stretches just around your upper torso, you can do it on other portions too, such as the knees and hips. Check out some of these stretching programs to help your muscles out:
Right and Left Hand Wrist Release
Our wrists need some stretching as well because they also take the brunt of stress from hovering over keyboards almost the entire day. Pushing our wrists to the limit can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. To reduce the risk, you can do this exercise.
First, extend your right arm with your palm facing up. With your other hand, grab the palm of your right hand and apply pressure with the left fingers, bending the right fingers back. Extend the right wrist and point the right fingers towards the floor. As you do this, try to keep your right elbow extended with the wrist pointing directly straight from the elbow. Repeat on the other side.
For this one, bring your shoulders up towards your ears. Hold the position for about 5 seconds. Next, roll your shoulders back and down. You can repeat the shoulder shrugs 5 to 10 times or as much as you want.
Standing Thigh Stretch
Hold one hand on a chair or a desk for stability as you start in a standing position. Lift your foot and gently pull your ankle. Keep your back straight and your knees parallel to one another. With this, you can feel the stretch on the front of your thigh. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, and switch to the opposite leg. This should be able to ease your aching hip flexors and quads.
Place your hands firmly on a desk for support and position them slightly wider than hip-distance apart. As a starting position, stand back about two feet away from your desk. Next, extend your right foot back as far as you can reach in a comfortable manner, plant your toes on the ground, and keep your right heel lifted off the floor. Your left knee should be directly over your left ankle.
Next, activate your quadriceps by straightening your right leg and pulling the back of the knee straight. As you do this, try to pull your right hip forward and down, towards the floor. Do it on the opposite side as well.
Sit with your spine tall and both your soles planted on the floor. Start with the right part by lifting a foot up and placing your right knee on your left knee. Hold your right ankle with your opposite hand and then gently lower the right knee toward the floor. Do this on the opposite side afterward.
While stretching may not be the cure-all for all the office-related pain you experience, regular stretching can definitely help improve not just your comfort but also your overall well-being. Do keep in mind that when stretching, you should feel tension and a stretch but not pain in your muscles.
If you feel pain or if you’re uncomfortable, it’s best to stop stretching. Seek professional medical advice on what you can do instead. Stay safe and stay healthy!