5 Simple Stretches You Can Perform in Your Home WorkspacePublié le 28 April 2020
Keep yourself feeling limber and fight muscle stiffness and pain with 5 simple stretches you can perform in your home workspace.
Are you feeling sore and stiff in your muscles and joints right now? You are not alone. Over half of office workers report dealing with neck or back pain as a direct result of their jobs. While working in an office environment is not traditionally thought of as a physically demanding job, the negative physical side effects should not be taken lightly. Sitting for over 35 hours a week has been linked to chronic aches and pains, nerve damage, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injuries, not to mention an increased risk for cardiovascular issues.
The harsh truth is that these risks even follow us all the way to the home workspace. Working from home can easily lead to the same physical issues as working in the office. This is why it is important to set up a home workspace that is as ergonomic as possible. Making sure that your desk and computer are the correct height and distance doesn’t mean that all your aches will go away. There are several stretches you can perform in your home workspace to target the specific muscle groups frequently aggravated by desk work.
Before beginning, please remember to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. If you feel any pain or discomfort, STOP IMMEDIATELY.
5 Simple Stretches You Can Perform in Your Home Workspace
Working on a computer or at a desk frequently forces us to look downwards. While this can be improved by raising your computer screen to the correct level, it can still exert pressure on your neck. Talking on a phone for extended periods, as salespeople often do, can also lock the neck into an uncomfortable position for a long time time. Strained neck muscles cause immediate discomfort, headaches, nausea and more.
A simple way to stretch and work the muscles in your neck is the side-to-side neck tilt:
- Straighten your back and shoulders
- Tilt your head to one side towards your shoulder (without forcing it)
- Hold this for 5 seconds then return to starting position
- Tilt your head to the other side and hold for 5 seconds
- Do this 3x per side (stop right away if you feel pain)
Sitting and working on a computer forces your arms, shoulders and back into one position and keeps them there over the course of the day. This results in the shoulder muscles growing tight and stiff, losing their full range of motion while developing knots and other forms of strains. While in our home workspace, we should make it a point to regularly loosen our shoulders in order to retain movement and avoid pain.
To relieve stiffness and pain, try using the cross over shoulder stretch:
- Reach one of your arms across your body so that your elbow in front of your chest
- Use your other arm to reach under your first arm and hook it into place
- Apply slight pressure to pull your outstretched arm slightly further
- Hold this pose for 20 seconds, feeling pressure (not pain) in the back of your shoulder
- Repeat with the opposite arm
Wrist issues are some of the most common problems experienced by office workers. Typing at a keyboard and using a mouse ends up forcing a lot of pressure directly down in our wrists, while we move our hands in a very repetitive way. Problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injuries affect many of us who work at a desk, even one in our home workspace causing pain, numbness and other forms of discomfort.
Before beginning to work, try the wrist flexor stretch to loosen up the joints and ligaments:
- Reach your arm straight out in front of you, with your palm facing up
- Point your fingers down to ground, so that your palm faces straight out
- With your other hand, pull back on your fingers to stretch out the wrist
- Hold for 30 seconds (stopping if it hurts)
- Repeat with the other hand, even if you predominantly use one hand
Prolonged sitting locks your hips into one position, drastically reducing mobility and forcing the muscles to become stiff. Poor posture can also cause more weight to be placed on one side of the body, gradually straining one hip. The average office worker sits for 6.5 hours a day, so even standing up and taking a short walk has the potential to do wonders for our hip muscles.
If you experience hip pain and stiffness, one of the easiest ways to help is with a classic exercise and stretch you can perform in your home workspace: the lunge.
- Stand up straight, with your core engaged for stability
- Step one leg forward and plant your foot straight ahead
- Bend at the knee and lower yourself down until your front leg is bent at an angle (no more than 90 degree) and your back leg remains straight
- Hold this position for 15 seconds before returning to the starting position
- Repeat with the other leg, at whatever speed/height you are comfortable
Office work can be hard on the glutes, thighs, calves, hamstrings and other muscles and ligaments in our feet and legs. The reason for this, however, is not necessarily the overuse of these muscles but the underuse. We’ve already talked about how much time office workers spend sitting, meaning that our legs muscles can see very little use over a period of hours. Standing decks have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional sitting arrangements, and can be created in your home workspace using any spare boxes or containers you have on hand.
For a simple stretch you can perform at your home workspace to engage your lower leg muscles, just stand on your tippy-toes. Technically called calf raises, standing on your toes engages the muscles and ligaments of your toes, feet, ankles and lower legs. Calf raises can help alleviate muscles stiffness in your lower legs and actually improve your balance by strengthening the ankle ligaments.
To perform calf raises:
- Stand straight with your feet apart
- Raise yourself slowly up on your toes
- Hold for 3 seconds and slowly lower yourself down
- Repeat for 30 seconds
- If you have trouble balancing, place your hand on a wall or another surface for stabilization
Physical pain and discomfort is something that affects far too many workers, even as we work from home. Thankfully, there are a few simple stretches you can perform in your home workspace that will engage these muscles and help relieve tension and soreness. Everyone’s body is different, so it is best to try different stretches and exercises in order to find what feels right for you. With a little bit of effort, we can continue to do our jobs and be more physically comfortable while doing so.
Please note: These stretches have been provided for informative purposes only and should not replace advice and guidance from a qualified healthcare professional. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program or fitness regime in order to minimize the risk of injury.