Sitting at a desk for even just one hour can make your muscles feel tight, making it difficult to straighten up and get moving again. So sitting at a desk all day for eight hours or more and doing little more than looking at a computer monitor can really take a toll on your body and lead to stiff neck, upper back pain, tight shoulders, and more. At Laredo ER, we’ve seen our share of patients who come in for pain, so when we see an easy way to help you avoid it, we want to share it. And it starts with a stretch.
The human body was designed for movement. It’s why we have so many muscles and joints. So it’s important to use them throughout the day every day. Throughout the workday, you might not have many opportunities to leave our computer desk and go out for a quick jog. But you can complete some simple desk stretches.
Neck and Shoulders
Give relief to tight neck muscles by doing some shoulder rolls and neck tilts while you’re at your desk. Roll both your shoulders forward and then backward to loosen and warm them up. Then perform neck tilts by lowering your ear toward your shoulder and holding briefly while you feel the stretch. Do this both directions. Then lower your chin toward your chest to stretch the back of the neck and raise your chin to stretch the front of the neck.
Relieve and prevent back pain and stiffness by simply standing up and taking a few steps once every 30 minutes. Before you sit back down, take a few seconds to perform a simple standing stretch. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, cross your arms in front of your chest, and pivot your shoulders, keeping your hips straight. You should feel a stretch in your back as you hold the position. Do this stretch the other direction to complete the set.
Legs and Hips
Standing and using a desk for balance, bring up one foot and grasp it with your hand, keeping your back straight. Pull upward on your foot to stretch your hamstring. Repeat on the other side. Then performing some slow lunges can stretch your hips and your calves.
Even with stretching you should be sure your office desk environment is set up optimally. Make sure your chair is set to the proper height so that your feet rest comfortably and flat on the floor. Your arms should rest at a 90-degree angle on the desk and your neck and eyes should be straight when looking at the computer monitor.
Remember, kids also can experience stiffness from sitting in classrooms for hours on end, so encourage them to stretch during breaks or between classes to start good desk work habits early.
Taking a few moments throughout the day to do these stretches can be a simple way to feel refreshed, energized, and pain free – and also help with stress relief. By staying stretched and flexible even in an office environment, you will be more likely to feel up to engaging in the physical activity you need to stay your best – and that has benefits that last a lifetime. Time to get up and move!