Office workers often struggle with acute or chronic back pain due to long hours of sitting down. This imposes risks on the person’s neck, shoulders, back and hips. Not to mention, prolonged sitting increases the chances of obesity. We recommend stretching exercises to our patients. If you sit in front of a computer all day, continue reading for the 10 best stretches for office workers and pay close attention to the benefits of stretching!
Sitting in front of a computer every day can wreak havoc on your body. That’s especially true if you don’t have an ideal ergonomic set-up (most of us don’t), and stay in the same position for hours at a time. This lack of variation, along with hunching the shoulders and an uncomfortable chair, can cause back pain, headaches, tension, and tightness in your back, neck, and shoulders.
Studies show that there are many benefits of stretching, including reducing neck and shoulder pain. Plus, regular breaks to stand and stretch increase productivity. Flexibility breaks allow your eyes to rest and your entire body to feel more comfortable.
Risks of Sitting Too Long
Your body is made to move—not to sit in the same position for long stretches of time. Sitting too long can affect your health in many ways, including shortening your life span.
A large study looking at 8,000 adults found that sitting for a prolonged period of time increased your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even early death. In addition, experts say too much sitting can cause back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and even shoulder pain. They also warn that prolonged sitting contributes to weight gain and obesity.
To help break the cycle of prolonged sitting, experts recommend taking a break to move for one to three minutes every 30 to 45 minutes—or at least once an hour. Bottom line: you need to find ways to sit less. This break can be simply standing at your desk (or using a standing desk), short walks, or doing the stretches below. This movement not only loosens up your muscles and improves circulation, but also gives your mind a little boost to help you stay focused.
The following flexibility exercises emphasize the neck, back, shoulders, hips, and glutes. Do them as often as you can and you’ll notice less tightness and maybe even more productivity.
- Set an alarm to go off every 45 to 55 minutes5 and perform the stretches as shown.
- Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds.
- Avoid any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.
- Do as many reps as you can and enjoy
1) Chest Stretch
Since most of us spend much of our time hunched forward, it is important to stretch your pectoral (chest) muscles and shoulders. Avoid this move if you have shoulder problems.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can also perform this exercise seated in a chair.
- Move your arms behind you and, if you can, lace your fingers together.
- Straighten the arms and gently lift your hands up a few inches until you feel a stretch in your chest.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
You can also use a resistance band and hold it overhead. Or, put your forearms on either side of a doorway, gently pressing forward until you feel a stretch in the chest.
2) Shoulder Shrug
The shoulders and neck hold a lot of stress and tension from typing, clicking, and scrunching.6 In fact, most of us probably hunch much more than we realize, making the trapezius and other shoulder muscles tight with tension. Exercises like shoulder rolls and shrugs will get the blood moving through your traps .
- Sit or stand with your back straight and your shoulders back.
- Lift the shoulders up towards the ears, squeezing them as hard as you can.
- Hold for 1 to 2 seconds and roll them back as you relax down.
- Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
- End the exercise by rolling the shoulders forward and backwards several times.