Advertisement

Stretches to Do at Work Every Day

Is your work causing physical pain?

Work-related disorders aren’t just limited to heavy manufacturing or construction. They can occur in all types of industries and work environments, including office spaces. Research shows that repetitive motion, poor posture, and staying in the same position can cause or worsen musculoskeletal disorders.

Staying in one position while doing repetitive motions is typical of a desk job. An analysis of job industry trends over the past 50 years revealed that at least 8 in 10 American workers are desk potatoes.

The habits we build at our desk, especially while sitting, can contribute to discomfort and health issues, including:

  • neck and shoulder pain
  • obesity
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • stress
  • lower back pain
  • carpal tunnel

According to the Mayo Clinic, more than four hours a day of screen time can increase your risk of death by any cause by 50 percent. There’s also a 125 percent risk for cardiovascular disease.

The good news is that moving or stretching is a buildable habit. For starters, you can set a timer to remind you to take a quick walk or stretch. If you’re pressed for time, there are even certain stretches you can do at your desk. Scroll down for the tutorial on working out those computer kinks.

Remember to breathe normally throughout the stretches, and never hold your breath. With each stretch, you may find yourself more flexible. Don’t go further than is comfortable.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Arms

Stretching out your arms

Triceps stretches

Triceps stretches
  1. Raise your arm and bend it so that your hand reaches toward the opposite side.
  2. Use your other hand and pull the elbow toward your head.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead reach, or latissimus stretch

latissimus stretch
  1. Extend each arm overhead.
  2. Reach to the opposite side.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Upper body and arm stretch

pectoralis stretch
  1. Clasp hands together above the head with palms facing outward.
  2. Push your arms up, stretching upward.
  3. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Upper body

Stretching out your torso

Shoulder, or pectoralis stretch

pectoralis stretch
  1. Clasp hands behind your back.
  2. Push the chest outward, and raise the chin.
  3. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Forward stretch

Forward stretch

This stretch is also known as the rhomboid upper or upper back stretch.

  1. Clasp your hands in front of you and lower your head in line with your arms.
  2. Press forward and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

Torso stretch, or trunk rotation

trunk rotation
  1. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, facing forward.
  2. Twist your upper body in the direction of the arm that’s resting on the back of your chair.
  3. Hold pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on other side.

Tip: Exhale as you lean into the stretch for a greater range of motion.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Legs

Stretching out your legs and knees

Hip and knee flexion stretch

flexion stretch
  1. Hug one knee at a time, pulling it toward your chest.
  2. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
  3. Alternate.

Hamstrings stretch

Hamstrings stretch
  1. Remaining seated, extend one leg outward.
  2. Reach toward your toes.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Be sure to do this one leg at a time, as doing this exercise with both legs out can cause back issues.

Head and shoulders

Head and shoulder stretches

Shoulder shrug

Shoulder shrug
  1. Raise both shoulders at once up toward the ears.
  2. Drop them and repeat 10 times each direction.

Neck stretches

Neck stretches
  1. Relax and lean your head forward.
  2. Slowly roll toward one side and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat on other side.
  4. Relax again and lift your chin back to starting position.
  5. Do this three times for each direction.

Upper trap stretch

Upper trap stretch
  1. Gently pull your head toward each shoulder until a light stretch is felt.
  2. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Alternate once on each side.
Advertisement
Advertisement

Benefits

Did you know?

A review of stretching programs in workplaces found that stretching improved range of motion, posture, and provided stress relief. Research also suggests that periodic workplace stretching may reduce pain by up to 72 percent. And some studies show that a bit of exercise in the workday can relieve both physical and mental stress.

While research on stretching in the workplace is still limited, a recent study found that rest breaks can minimize discomfort without compromising productivity.

Advertisement

Get moving

Other ways to get moving

All of these stretches are productive. The goal is to move in new position throughout the day to avoid repetitive stretch injuries. According to The Harvard School of Public Health, physical activity — even for short periods of time — can improve your mood. You may experience benefits from:

  • standing up while on the phone or eating lunch
  • getting a flexible standing desk so you can change your position
  • walking laps during quick meetings
  • getting up from your seat every hour and walking around the office

Ask your manager or human resources department about ergonomic furniture. You can also download StretchClock, a break reminder app, that alerts you every hour to get up and move around a little. They even provide no-sweat exercise videos, if you can’t leave your desk.

Read more: Managing work-related stress »

Article Resources
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement