Benefits of Stretching at Work/Workstation Stretches
In previous blogs I have mentioned how sitting creates compression in the spine, increasing pressure on the discs and shortening the pelvic muscles.
Stretching throughout your work day will help you avoid injury to your low back, shoulders, knees, elbows and wrists, reduce your stress levels and potentially increase your productivity.
Often clients are self-conscious about stretching at work, but consider the importance of maintaining
- blood flow and nutrient supply
- maintaining elasticity
- and energy levels
of your tissues, to enhance your
- joint mobility
- reduce muscle tightness and discomfort
- improve muscular balance
- muscle co-ordination
and you just might feel the odd side-glance is worth it. Who knows you might start a new wave of body awareness in your office.
Although the main areas to focus on are
- mid & low back
- elbows, forearms and wrists
you should bear in mind your entire body is a functional unit and you should strive to relieve workplace stress from your whole body.
In addition to stretching taking regular breaks is important for your eyes as well as your mind and body.
- Breathing & Eye Breaks – Change your focus from your computer or paperwork to looking towards the furthest point you can see in your office. Blink rapidly for a few seconds, then close your eyes and breathe deeply for 1 – 2 minutes
- Shoulder & Hand Breaks – Let your hands hang by your sides. Roll your shoulders whilst maintaining a tall neutral spine between bouts of typing or focused work.
- Walkabout Breaks – Every 30 minutes, or failing that every 60 minutes, stand up and walk about. Get a drink, speak to that colleague you were planning to email or walk to the far end of your office and look out of the window.
- Exercise Breaks – Partway through your day, or after 2 hours at your desk, go for a brisk walk outdoors and perform the stretches. If you can’t get outdoors walk up and down a couple of flights of stairs.
- Ergonomics – Consider a sit-to-stand desk so that you can vary your posture & promote spine health. Alternatively swap your office chair for an exercise ball; it will challenge you to keep your core muscles engaged to stay balanced.
Recently, I’ve been developing a programme of exercises for the elderly at risk of falls. However, many of the exercises would benefit the office-working population.
- Sit-to-Stand-no-Hands – Repeat this 20 times and you’ll realise it can be quite challenging and aerobically stimulating.
- Release your Head – Pick a mantra or question to which the answer is yes and nod your head “yes, yes, yes” … as you release tension that is both physical and mental. Then do the opposite – “no, no’ no …
- Perform small figures of 8 with your head whilst allowing your eyes to “swim” inside your head.
- Flamenco Hands – Shake out your hands. Loosen your hands by circulating fingers, wrists, elbows and the top of your arms like a Flamenco dancer. Remember to circulate in the opposite direction.
- The Big Hug – Extend your arms in front of you. Breath in deeply; Hold your breath and hug yourself tightly reaching your hands across your shoulder blades ; Breathe Out with a long exhale to release the area between your shoulder blades. Repeat crossing your arms the other way.
- Drape Your Spine – Sit in your chair and drape your spine over your legs (chest to thighs) and let your arms hang loosely buy your sides. Relax and Breathe deeply.
- Extend Your Spine – Sit up tall in a chair or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers. Turn your palms to the ceiling; lift your chin and breastbone to the ceiling, allowing your head to tilt back. Look up to the ceiling; deep inhale, deep exhale, release.
- Circulate your Hips – whether it is salsa, cha-cha or samba moves that appeal, move your hips for at least 2 minutes.
and last, but not least
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat real food