We're not designed to stay in the same position for extended periods of time. Sitting at a desk, driving a car or standing during your working day can cause tense muscles, holding them in a fixed or awkward spot. This static work can increase pressure on the nerves and shortened muscles, as well as elongate and weaken other muscles.
Think about your posture as you sit at your desk. The constant action of leaning forward to see the computer screen causes your spine to take on a ‘C’ shape, shortening the abdominal muscles and deep back muscles, while loosening and overstretching the outer back muscles. This creates muscle imbalance, leading to tension.
However, taking a few minutes out of each hour to stretch out your body can help to maintain flexibility and movement. Here are some simple exercises to help you limber up when at work:
1. Stand up and walk
Taking more breaks from your desk help maintain your health. The more often you stand up during the working day, the easier it is to manage your shape. So every opportunity you get, stand up and walk around – it may be to the printer, to visit a colleague or to get a glass of water.
2. Standing back curl
Standing up, place your hands in the small of your back. Slowly lean backwards until you feel a slight stretch. Keep your knees slightly bent. Hold the stretch for five seconds and repeat ten times.
3. Shoulder shrug
In a standing position with both arms by your side, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears. Hold for ten seconds, before rolling and lowering your shoulders backwards. Repeat five times.
4. Wrist Stretch
With your right arm outstretched and palm facing up, grab your right fingers with your left hand. Slowly pull your right hand towards the floor, so that your right wrist makes a 90-degree angle and your fingers are pointing towards the floor. Hold for ten seconds before slowly bending your wrist the other way – your fingers should now be pointing to the roof, with your palm facing away from you. Hold for 10 seconds. Now repeat the exercise with your left hand. Complete five stretches with each hand.
5. Spinal rotation
Seated in your chair with both feet flat on the floor, reach your right hand across your body and grab the left hand side of the chair. Look over your left shoulder while you rotate the low and mid back. Hold for ten seconds and then swap sides. Repeat five times.
6. Head tilt
Slowly lower your head to the right. Hold for ten seconds before lower to the left and holding for another 10 seconds. Lower your head forward, holding for ten seconds and then backwards. Repeat five times.
Take a 3-5 minute break from your desk each hour and perform these exercises. You’ll feel loads better for it.