Why is stretching at the office important?
Office workers put their body through a tremendous amount of stress each and every day you are at work. If you think about it, most office workers spend around 2000 hours sitting behind a desk each and every year! While you may not be outside lifting rocks or rubbing sticks together, rather getting most of your work done between the ears, the very machine on which your reading this, most likely wasting a little time while at the office is actually placing a large amount of strain on your body. Don’t worry, all the bright-screened devil’s handy work can be mitigated by a short session of at-work stretching.
What are you actually guarding against?
Back pain, neck pain, wrist pain, elbow pain, vision problems…the list goes on and on. Sitting still for hours on end while reading or writing will ultimately harm you posture in the long run. Though it may be efficient in keeping you at attention, the upright seated position places a lot of pressure on your lower back which will inevitably lead to back problems later in life unless offset by another contributing factor. Let stretching be that factor.
No matter how well a workstation is designed, problems may arise if attention is not paid to the way the work is done. Working at a computer often involves very few changes in body position. This lack of movement can lead to muscle pain and strain. A quick break from your seated position that allows your back to experience a full range of motion will go a long way towards preventing future trips to the physiotherapist. Also, be sure to check your chair for lumbar support .
Eyesight issues: A blink takes only milliseconds, but failing to do so can lead to long lasting problems with your vision. Unfortunately, when reading or typing for long periods of time, blinking occurs less and less as you focus in on important topics. The human eye wasn’t build for staring at illumination for indefinite periods of time. A quick stretch break will give your eyes time to recuperate before its back to starting at your screen through a fresh looking glass.
Stress: Engrossing yourself too heavily in your work files can lead to stress which will have negative repercussions across all aspects of your life. Whether it’s regulated breathing exercises or simply a temporary reprieve from the laundry list of emails, concerns, questions and reading material, office stretching is certain to provide some relaxation to break up the day.
What can be done to minimize this strain?
It is recommended that a person break for 5-10 minutes for every hour spent at a workstation.
* Vary the work tasks. Break up keyboarding tasks work by doing other job duties or tasks that involve moving around or changing body position. Try to stand up and move around.
* Look away from the screen occasionally and focus your eyes on an object far away.
* Take regular rest breaks to ease muscle aches, eye strain and stress.
* Relax your muscles, stretch and change position.
Read our How to Avoid Office Injuries: Workplace Ergonomics blog post for more information.
Check out these stretches provided by the University of Waterloo: https://uwaterloo.ca/safety-office/programs-and-procedures/ergonomics/ergonomic-stretches
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