Did you know that in the UK around 28 million work days are lost due to non-fatal workplace injuries, poor work-related health, and musculoskeletal problems? A huge 12.8 million of those days are due to stress, anxiety, and depression, whilst another 6.9 million are accounted to muscle and bone issues. The condition known as ‘tech neck’ has now become a common ailment in most offices.
The average office worker will spend around 8 hours a day sitting at a desk. Add then a journey to and from the office, meal times and relaxing on the sofa at the end of the day, it amounts to a lot of time being sedentary.
Can Stretching Help?
Yes, it can. Just a few simple stretches throughout the day will help to improve our overall physical and mental wellness. In fact, we need to stretch. Our muscles need to be healthy, strong and flexible. Without this flexibility we lose joint mobility, our muscles become shortened and when we come to use them they feel weak and that can result in joint and muscle pain.
I’m not suggesting you whip out your yoga mat in the middle of the office and perform a few downward dogs every 30 minutes but there are some simple, more discreet stretches you can do at your desk to help.
5 Simple Stretches To Do Right Now.
The following stretches can be performed sitting down. Try to think about your posture, both feet should be flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and the spine should be tall.
- Neck Stretch – right hand holds the seat of the chair, turn your head to look over your left shoulder then nod your head down as if looking towards your armpit. Repeat on the other side.
- Back Stretch – cross your arms over your chest. Lower your chin to your chest and continue to curl inwards and downwards as if doing a crunch. Unroll to come back to neutral and gently let the head tip back to stretch slightly up and backwards.
- Shoulder Stretch – cross the right arm across the body, use the left hand to pull your arm closer to your body, and open up the shoulder blade. Repeat on the other side.
- Chest and Upper Arm Stretch – clasping your hands behind your back, pull the hands down and away from the body.
- Hamstring Stretch – move to the edge of your chair and extend one leg forward keeping it as straight as possible. Incline the body forward and aim to touch the toes. Repeat with other leg.
Movement is Medicine.
Just as our stresses and anxieties often manifest themselves into physical discomfort, our real pains and bodily irritations impair our mental health. It is very hard to stay focussed and motivated when you have a constant, nagging ache in your upper back.
Movement really is medicine, just doing a few simple stretches periodically throughout the day will allow you to keep well at work and prevent long term injury and illness. According to this study on intermittent stretching exercises at work,
regular stretching can reduce work-related pain by up to 72%.
Take a Moment.
- Set up an alarm to remind you to stretch every hour or two.
- Stretch out all your fingers and ball them into fists every couple of minutes.
- Take your eyes off the screen every now and then.
- Get up and walk around whilst on that phone call.
Happy stretching, happy workplace.