June 24, 2024

Break-Time: At-Your-Desk Stretching

Unfortunately sore, tired, painful muscles and joints are a regular and ongoing challenge for those who work in front of a computer. However, there is help! Welcome to the world of ergonomics. Ergonomics involve fitting a worker to his/her work space. An ergonomic evaluation will review posture, reach and focal points, including such angles as seat height, monitor position and keyboard placement just to name a few. A proper fit prevents many of the overuse conditions we may experience, such as cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive stress injuries and repetitive motion injuries. We know of these conditions as tendonitis, sprains, strains, carpel tunnel syndrome, neck/back pain, and bursitis.

One beneficial action to take right now is to take mini-breaks during your work day, school day or study day. Here are several stretches with which to begin: (As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercises.)

Reach up and over stretch. Reach both arms straight up overhead. Lean to your right, then your left.

Wrist circles. Circle your wrists 5 times one direction, then 5 times the opposite direction.

Extend fingers stretch. Make a fist, then extend and straighten your fingers.

Hands behind body with chin to chest stretch. Lace your fingers behind your body. Keeping your torso upright, extend your arms, and press your hands down toward the floor. At the same time lower your chin toward your chest.

Arms out to sides stretch. Extend both arms straight out the sides of your body. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor and your palms facing forward, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your arms back.

Hands behind head stretch. Lace your fingers and place your hands on the back of your neck. Keeping your hands in place and your torso upright, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows wide.

Palm down and in stretch. Extend your right arm in front of your body with your palm facing the floor. Curl your fingers in while bending your wrist down and in. Repeat with your left arm forward.

Arms overhead with look up stretch. Lace your fingers and reach both arms up overhead until your elbows are straight. Look up to the ceiling.

Investing in a professional ergonomics evaluation, taking breaks and doing a few stretches or range of motion exercises during the day will help reduce common overuse injuries we find in the workplace. You’ll also improve work efficiency as well as comfort during your day.