Back Pain in your Office?
Do you find yourself in pain after a long days work? Does your back feel like you've been carrying slabs of limestone to build the Pyramids? Many people who work "9-5" shifts in a cubicle or an office complain about the same thing.
Long hours spent sitting in the same position, staring at the same screen can cause serious health problems that cost companies billions of dollars a year. Muscular- Skeletal disorders (MSD) are becoming a more common occurrence amongst office workers in the modern workplace.
Thousands of years ago, this would have never been a problem. No Viking ever complained about back problems from raiding "too hard". But, on the flip side of that, no office worker ever complained about being mauled by a sea serpent.
The demands of taking phone calls from clients and typing emails for countless hours pose new sorts of problems for our health in the form of deterioration.
However, there are ways to combat the effects of prolonged hours in the office. While you can't readily go to the gym in the middle of the work day, you can stretch at your desk.
Research shows that stretching for about 15 minutes a day can ward off such MSD's as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis. Because we care, we have compiled a list of 10 stretches you can do at your desk to stay healthy while you work!
#1 Exercise instead of Sitting
You spend the vast majority of your day sitting in front of that screen, why not make it a little more interesting, and healthy!
Try exchanging your office chair for an exercise ball, or even this crazy Exercise Ball/Rolling Chair Combo! Sitting on the exercise ball forces your body to balance itself.
This expands muscle energy in your abs, obliques, legs and chest without you even really trying! If you have a large enough office and are committed to being healthy, why not put a stair stepper in or maybe a treadmill?
#2 Shoulder Shrugs
If you sit hunched down while you work, like I do, back problems are just the beginning of your worries. Slowly the pain will begin to manifest in your shoulders and in your neck.
But there is an easy way to combat this (besides learning better posture). If you've ever seen a pitcher warm up before he goes into a game, he usually incorporates doing shoulder shrugs into his stretches to loosen them up.
You can do the same thing while you sit in your office chair. Simply rotate your shoulders up and back while your back is pressed up against the chair.
#3 Upper Body Twist
Here's a stretch I learned to do in high school biology when Mr. Schmitz was boring my class with the explanation of why he drinks hot water in the morning instead of coffee/ tea (his reasons are not convincing).
It's very easy to do. First, make sure you are facing forward, then twist your torso so that your upper body is starting to turn toward the back of the chair. Now grab the back of your chair and continue twisting your body, using the chair as leverage.
If it's been awhile since you've done this, you should hear a satisfying "crack" of the back. You're welcome.
#4 Leg Extensions
Sitting in your chair for too long can make your leg(s) go numb. If you keep sitting in your chair for too long, you can begin developing a disorder called Reynaud's Syndrome.
Reynaud's syndrome is a disease that is caused by a lack of blood flow to the extremities. Symptoms are often sudden numbness and/ or cold feeling in the hands or feet. Leg extensions are an easy stretch you can do to combat this disorder.
Push your chair away from your desk, so you have enough room to lift your legs. Once your legs are lifted, try to keep them as straight as you can! then reach forward with your hands attempting to touch your toes. This helps stretch the muscles out in your calves and thighs, keeping the blood flow to these at a steady level.
#5 Substitute Walks for Email
Another suggestion that is not necessarily a stretch, but more of a habit that you could pick up to help keep you exercising while working. Instead of hitting the CC button when you're sending emails to the office, why not just deliver the message in person?
This one separates the people who really want to be healthy, from those who just like the idea of it. If you are dedicated to walking around the office a few times a day, you will not only prevent MSD's but also promote cardiovascular health (and most likely meet your daily step goal).
#6 The Day Dream
If you're a daydreamer at work, don't worry, you're not in the minority. This simple stretch here is meant to keep your shoulders and arms feeling limber.
Reach one hand behind your shoulder, like you are reaching for the center of your back, then take the hand of your other arm and press your elbow down.
#7 Knee to Chest
I'm not the most flexible of individuals, so a lot of the stretches I've put in here are for those of you out there, like me, who aren't gymnasts. The knee to the chest is another good stretch for keeping the circulation of blood in your legs going strong, but it requires a little bit more flexibility than the other ones.
Take your knee, and pull it up to your chest while you're sitting in the chair. The trick is trying to keep your knee straight while you do this and treat your leg like you're folding a chair.
#8 Olympic Dive
Don't freak out, this stretch might be the easiest one to do on the entire list. I put Olympic Dive because, like I said before, I am a daydreamer. And who doesn't wish they were at the Olympics about to make a sensational high dive?
....Well even if you don't, this is a great stretch for the arms and back. While you are sitting in the chair, put your hands together over your head like you are about to dive into a swimming pool!
Simultaneously dip your head in conjunction with the diving pose. Do this repetitively with your eyes closed, and you might just see yourself about to make that gold medal dive.
#9 Neck Roll
Have you ever done the robot before? If you have, this stretch will be simple and satisfying! All you have to do is point your chin down at your chest and then begin rotating your head clockwise.
Your neck will thank you for it when you're was done!
#10 Happy Cheer
We used to have something called the "California Stretch" when I used to play football. This is less of an actual stretch and more like you appreciating yourself for all of the stretchings you have done.
It's something like a "relaxing" stretch if there is such a thing, so this stretch is less about the actual relief of physical tension and more a release of all tension.
Reach your hands straight up and try to "touch the sky"! And that's all you have to do!
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Original Featured Image Source from "Bulk . . . Son of Hulk" by Keoni Cabral: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keoni101/5154779044
Matt Lettieri - Gamertag: ShockerMPH