Exercises to Relieve the Strain of a Sedentary Work Environment

Sandusky Area YMCA (419) 621-9622 In our world of technology, many jobs require people to sit at desks
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Sandusky Area YMCA

(419) 621-9622

In our world of technology, many jobs require people to sit at desks for extended periods of time. Because our bodies were not designed to maintain seated positions for long durations, it is possible to feel pain and discomfort in our muscles after doing so.

Taking periodic rest breaks from your work environment and incorporating 3-4 exercises regularly throughout the day, may alleviate muscle pain and discomfort caused by working at a desk.

It is easy to do. Select 3 – 4 exercises from the following list to perform once every hour of continuous seated work. Position your body with good posture: Chest lifted, shoulders back and down, stomach muscles contracted, feet on the floor approximately shoulder width apart and knees in line over the ankles.

Each stretch should be performed 5 – 6 times, unless otherwise noted. Try to hold each stretch 15 – 20 seconds, deliberately inhaling and exhaling while doing so. Each movement should be smooth and performed slowly. Avoid bouncy and jerky movements. If an exercise or stretch is uncomfortable and causes you pain, discontinue.

    1.    Neck Stretch I: While sitting tall and facing forward, bring your left ear toward your left shoulder. Hold. Return to start position and repeat on the right side. Be careful not to tense or move the shoulder.

    2.    Neck Stretch II: While sitting tall and facing forward, look over your left shoulder. Hold. Return to start and repeat on the right.

    3.    Shoulder Circles: Sit tall. Raise and roll your shoulders forward 5 – 6 times. Raise and roll your shoulders backwards 5 – 6 times.

    4.    Upper Back and Chest: Sit tall and extend arms out to the side, shoulder high. Lower arms and reach them behind you. Reach palms towards each other (they do not have to touch) and lift the chest. Reverse the movement by bringing the arms back to the start position and reach the palms towards each other in front of you. Gently reach the fingers away from your body and open through the upper back.

    5.    Waist: Sit upright with good posture and slowly reach your right hand to the left knee. Feet should be flat on the floor. Reach behind you with the left hand, just as far as you can. Gently turn the upper body to the left. Repeat, reaching the left hand to the right knee and turning the upper body to the right.

    6.    Wrists: While maintaining good posture, keep elbows close to the body, gently flex and extend your wrists (bend the wrist down and up). Remember to perform the stretch slow and controlled. Never force a movement. Slowly circle the wrists in both directions and open and close the hands.

    7.    Arm Stretch: Sit tall and reach towards the ceiling with the right arm. Lower and repeat on the left.

    8.    Ankles: While sitting tall with good posture, flex and extend the right ankle (reach the toes away from the body and then gently bring the toes towards the nose). Repeat on the left. Slowly circle the ankles 5 – 6 times in each direction. First the right, then the left.

    9.    Squat: From your chair, carefully stand and sit 12 – 15 times. Use extra caution if your chair has wheels on it!

    10.    Walk for 5 – 10 minutes. If you are near stairs, walk up and down them several times.

If you sit at a desk throughout the day, begin to include these simple exercises and stretches into your daily plan. You will improve your flexibility, increase your performance, decrease your physical stress and begin to feel better!