I recently upgraded from my kitchen table to an ergonomic workstation when I started reading about all work-related physical discomfort and injuries I could be exposed to while doing office work. I thought I would be safer than working in construction or manufacturing. How sneaky!
But an ergonomic workstation doesn't do it all... I know I also had to introduce regular movement! So I looked up what "deskercise" (desk exercise) I could do to get moving to avoid muscle strains. Here are my top 6 favorites you can do every day:
1. Tricep Stretches
This is my personal favorite because it’s easy and relaxing. While on your seat, raise your arm and bend it towards the other side. Use the other hand to pull the elbow. Hold this position for 10 - 30 counts. Repeat on the other side.
2. Overhead Stretch
This time, extend your arms overhead and reach one side. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Then, clasp both hands and extend your arms upwards and hold for 10-30 seconds.
3. Torso-shoulder stretch
You can clasp your hands behind your back or hold the back part of your chair (whichever is more comfortable for you), then push your chest outward. Raise your chin. Hold this pose for 10 - 30 seconds.
4. Hamstrings Stretch
This next deskercise may be a little challenging to execute but trust me, even a newbie like me can knock this off. While seated, extend one leg outward. Try to reach your toes for 10 - 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. You can also try extending both legs and slowly reaching for your feet.
5. Upper Trap Stretch
Gently pull your head toward one shoulder until you feel a slight stretch. Hold this pose for 10 - 15 seconds then do the same thing on the other side.
6. Trunk rotation
Keep one foot firmly on the ground, while the other leg is crossed. Twist your upper body towards the direction of the arm placed on the back of your chair. Hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Pro tip! Don’t forget to breathe (inhale, exhale) when doing a greater range of motion or doing it longer.
More ways to keep moving!!!
All these stretches can be done in 5 minutes or less so try to sneak in some of these during your breaks. According to studies, physical activities, although done for short periods of time, help improve your mood and productivity, and most importantly, reduce muscle strains and back pains.
Aside from these stretches, you can also try doing the following for better results:
- Vary your work tasks. You may want to alternate some typing tasks and those that involve moving around or standing.
- When doing keyboard tasks, try to look away from the screen occasionally to avoid eye strain.
- Relax your muscles and change position from time to time.
- When doing stretches, don’t try to push or pull your muscles excessively. The goal is to feel some stretch and not pain.
- Try to get up from your seat every hour and walk around the office when taking your phone calls for instance
- Hydrate yourself.
Remember! Staying in one position for a long period of time contributes to discomfort and health issues, including obesity. Avoid becoming desk potatoes and keep moving!