If you’re like most Americans, you may spend hours every day sitting. You may sit at a desk, in a car, on a couch, or at a kitchen table any of which can cause harmful damage. Sitting appears to be minimally exertive but through our inactivity we are activating many muscles. Even those who have converted to a standing desk can still produce harm due to the long hours of static posture.
Consequences of static posture can include headaches, neck pain, low back pain, and upper back pain. This frequently leads to the development of “Forward Head Posture”, a condition in which the head drifts from atop the neck to in front of the shoulders. When you add stress to the mix these muscle imbalances can become more permanent and lead to extraordinary consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared that workplace stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
The good news is you can do something about this. Here is my advice to anyone who finds themselves in a static posture and/or under a large amount of stress:
- Move often – Try to get up at least once an hour.
- Stretch – Especially if you are seated and looking at a computer or TV, stretch by standing up and placing your hands on your lower back, then lean backwards.
- Drink water – Besides keeping you hydrated, if you drink water often enough, you will naturally get up from your desk to use the restroom.
- Set alarms – Use your computer or cell phone to set alarms to remind you to take a break from sitting. This break could include taking a stroll, performing a stretch, visiting your coworker, or performing one of our desk gym exercises below.
- Consult a specialist – Chiropractors and other functional-minded practitioners can help assess your joint and muscle function or dysfunction to see if any treatment should be performed. She or he could also prescribe therapeutic exercises you could do throughout the day to work in a pain-free way.
If you are looking for some good exercises from chiropractic professionals to perform at your desk, try one of these every hour.
This exercise is easy to do at any desk and helps to relieve upper shoulder and neck pain. Place your hands and elbows on the desk. Sit tall with your shoulders relaxed and retracted. Push your hands and elbows down into the desk and breathe into your abdomen. The breath should not be forced and should involve the entire abdomen. Repeat up to 10 times.
Stand upright with your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Open your hands fully with fingers spread and thumbs to the sky. Raise one leg up towards your hand while pushing up on your toes with your stance leg. Repeat for 30 seconds alternating legs.
With a resistance band wrapped around each wrist stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your palms at your thighs. Open your hands to the ceiling with your palms up and your thumbs pointing backwards. You should feel muscle activation between your shoulder blades and posteriorly at the shoulder joint. Repeat up to 15 times.
Stand with a resistance band wrapped around just below your knees. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Rotate your knee outward from your hip keeping your feet on the floor. Repeat for 30 seconds alternating legs.
Stand with your feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart. Bend forward and put your hands on the floor in front of your feet. From there sit back into your hips approximating your hips to your feet. Your hands will come off of the floor but keep your arms extended in front of you. From this position stand back upright. Repeat up to 7 times.
To see these exercises explained and demonstrated, check out our latest video, “Desk Exercises.”
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Free Desk Exercises Class August 3rd at 6pm!
This free class is designed to show you short simple exercises you can perform throughout your workday to reduce repetitive use injuries and improve posture. It will be held in our Roanoke, Virginia chiropractic office. Email us to reserve your spot today!
Daryl C. Rich, DC, CSCS, ART®