Nanaimo Physiotherapy - Three Helpful Stretches For Office Workers

|| June 11, 2018

physiotherapy-stretches.jpgWellness tips for your everyday life from your Nanaimo physiotherapy team.

Desk jobs are one the most common forms of employment in the developed world, and you may be surprised at how hard sitting all day is on your body. You may notice that you can be stiff and sore after a long day at the office; however, being sedentary for extended periods of times has been proven to be associated with a variety of chronic health conditions.

We appreciate that those working in offices are very busy, and don’t always have the time to get away from their desk and go for a stroll throughout the day. Here are three stretches you can do throughout the day without even leaving your desk!

  1. Chest stretch: Sit forward, clasp your hands behind your back and lift your arms towards the ceiling. You should feel a stretch at the front of your chest. Look up slightly to increase the stretch. You should not feel any pain or tingling in your arms. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice.
  2. Seated hamstring stretch: Perch on the edge of your seat and straighten one leg out in front of you. Lean forwards at your hips, keeping your back straight. You should feel a gentle stretch at the back of your thigh. If you feel the stretch behind your knee or into your calf, let your ankle relax, and let your foot drop towards the floor. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, then swap legs. Repeat this stretch with each leg twice. 
  3. Chin tuck: Sit up in your chair so your bottom is at the back of your seat and your lower back is supported. Relax your shoulders and gently tuck your chin in. To help you get the right stretch, imagine you are slowly squishing a soft ball under your chin. You should feel a gentle stretch at the top of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds, release and repeat.

Why are these stretches beneficial?

You are moving more often.

We note that desk jobs which require sitting are hard on our bodies, but it is important to realize that it isn’t the sitting itself that is the problem. Rather, it is the lack of movement that is the most detrimental, as those in office jobs can find themselves becoming very still while focused on tight deadlines. An expression in physiotherapy is ‘the best posture is your next posture’. This means that, above all, movement is the best thing for your body.

Try breaking up your sitting time by setting a quiet alarm to remind you to move or change positions every 20 minutes. You can also make a point to stand up for phone calls, and walk over to colleagues when you have a question.

You are reversing your posture.

While not moving is definitely the worst aspect to prolonged sitting, the postures we often adopt while sitting can also be problematic. After a long day, we often sink into a posture that requires the least energy to maintain: sitting with a flattened lower back, hunched neck and slouched shoulders. However, this slouched posture can lead to shortened hamstring, hip flexor and pectoral muscles.

If you are spending large amounts of time sitting, it’s important to take time every day to adopt the opposite postures and keep your body flexible. This means to move into positions that extend your back (both the top and bottom), stretching your shoulders, and extending your hips.

By incorporating these three stretches into your daily routine, your body and muscles will be more relaxed, and this can reduce back pain, neck pain, and other posture-related issues.

You should not feel any pain with these stretches.

Only stretch to the point that you feel mild discomfort, but not pain. Be sure to not push your stretches too far beyond what your body can handle. It can be tempting to think that more stretching is better, but over-stretching can cause injuries.

Talk to your physiotherapist today to get the most out of your stretches!

We can give you tips to help you maximize the effects you get from your stretches, or develop a stretching routine customized for your exact needs. Don’t have a physiotherapist yet? Book your initial assessment to work with us and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your concerns and pain. We offer direct billing to your insurance provider, and you can even book online!  

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Disclaimer: We hope that these tips will be helpful; however, none of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual condition.