If you work at a computer desk all day long, the postural stresses and strains will take its toll on your body and your energy levels. Taking several mini breaks can dramatically reduce the amount of strain. Set a quiet timer at your workstation to prompt you to take these breaks and cycle through a stretching or exercises. At each interval, change what you will do during your mini break. For example, at one break you can simply stand and look around the room and take your eyes off your computer. Next time, you can do a neck stretch or exercise. When your timer goes off again, go for a small walk around the office. Then go back to stretches. Changing up the activity will help you ‘unlock’ from the computer, reduce stress, and reduce pressure on your neck and back.
Here are some examples of easy exercises that you can do throughout the day to help:
This Postural Relief Position helps you stretch towards the opposite direction of poor sitting posture. Sit at the edge of the chair with feet and knees wider than the hips and rotated slightly outward. Tuck your chin slightly, raise chest up allowing your spine to relax into a gentle arch. Relax shoulders and rotate arms and hands so that your thumbs point backward. Hold for up to 30 seconds, breathe and release slowly.
Seated Neck Retraction is done while sitting tall with shoulders relaxed. Tuck your chin into your neck, without flexing your head downward. Gently slide your head backwards. Hold for 4-5 seconds and slowly release.
Doorway Stretch – Facing a corner or standing through a doorway, place forearms on each wall at shoulder height. Slowly lean chest forward through doorway or into corner, keeping your upper body tall. You should feel a stretch in the front of the chest. Hold for up to 20 seconds and then slowly release.
Standing Chest/Pec Release – Place hands on the low back while standing. Breathe in and raise your sternum up while bringing your elbows toward each other behind your body. Hold for 10 seconds, exhale, feeling a release in your chest and shoulders. Slowly return to start position.
More postural stretches can be found here. Please remember to perform stretches gradually and gently. Do not force to ‘get a better stretch’. Hold the stretch without ‘bouncing’ and breathe throughout the motion.
Examples provided are courtesy of Phases Rehab exercise prescription software.
Dr. Chris Enns, B.Sc., D.C. has been a Winnipeg chiropractor since 2005. He is the owner of Balance Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, located at 121 St. Anne’s Rd in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Services include: chiropractic, massage therapy, athletic therapy, orthotics, spinal decompression therapy, laser therapy, x-ray services, and health and fitness consulting.