Work-related disorders aren’t just limited to heavy manufacturing or construction. They can occur in all types of industries and work environments, including office spaces. Research shows that repetitive motion, poor posture, and staying in the same position can cause or worsen musculoskeletal disorders.
Staying in one position while doing repetitive motions is typical of a desk job. An analysis of job industry trends over the past 50 years revealed that at least 8 in 10 American workers are desk potatoes.
The habits we build at our desk, especially while sitting, can contribute to discomfort and health issues, including:
The good news is that moving or stretching is a buildable habit. For starters, you can set a timer to remind you to take a quick walk or stretch. If you’re pressed for time, there are even certain stretches you can do at your desk. Scroll down for the tutorial on working out those computer kinks.
Remember to breathe normally throughout the stretches, and never hold your breath. With each stretch, you may find yourself more flexible. Don’t go further than is comfortable.
Stretching out your arms
This stretch is also known as the rhomboid upper or upper back stretch.
Tip: Exhale as you lean into the stretch for a greater range of motion.
Be sure to do this one leg at a time, as doing this exercise with both legs out can cause back issues.
A review of stretching programs in workplaces found that stretching improved range of motion, posture, and provided stress relief. Research Trusted Source also suggests that periodic workplace stretching may reduce pain by up to 72 percent. And some studies Trusted Source show that a bit of exercise in the workday can relieve both physical and mental stress.
While research on stretching in the workplace is still limited, a recent study found that rest breaks can minimize discomfort without compromising productivity.
All of these stretches are productive. The goal is to move in new position throughout the day to avoid repetitive stretch injuries. According to The Harvard School of Public Health, physical activity — even for short periods of time — can improve your mood. You may experience benefits from:
Ask your manager or human resources department about ergonomic furniture. You can also download StretchClock, a break reminder app, that alerts you every hour to get up and move around a little. They even provide no-sweat exercise videos, if you can’t leave your desk.