Desk exercises are sometimes the only option for people with back pain at the office. With long commutes, full-time desk jobs, downtime in front of the TV, and an optimistic 8 hours of sleep, Americans are spending up to 21 hours a day sedentary, according to a survey commissioned by Ergotron in 2013. So, it’s no surprise that the American Chiropractic Association also reports that 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. How can you add some activity to your day to avoid back pain?
Desk Exercises for the Upper Body Crunch
For most people working at a desk, it’s not long before tension, poor ergonomics, and a strained posture can cause their arms and shoulders to rise up toward their ears. This muscle tension can lead to issues like spasms, headaches, and spinal issues in the neck and upper back, so making a conscious effort to stretch and breathe deeply for relaxation will provide some much-needed relief.
While sitting up straight, engage your core and align your ears over your hips. Breathing slowly, gently lower your right ear toward your right shoulder and carefully tilt your head to stretch your neck muscles. Repeat on the left side.
Once you’re sitting tall and engaging your core, reach your arms overhead. Grab your left wrist with your right hand and gently pull your left arm over to the right side of your body, reaching upward with the rib cage. Continue to breathe evenly and repeat this on the other side. This will be a great stretch for your torso.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Clasping your hands behind your back with your thumbs toward your spine, inhale and lift your chest upward while drawing your hands down toward your tailbone. Draw your elbows close together to squeeze your shoulder blades and release upper back tension.
Desk Exercises for the Low-Back Slump
It’s easy to experience fatigue in the support muscles of your core and spine when they are not conditioned, and this slumping and slouching creates intense compression in the lumbar spine. Also, excessive sitting will shorten muscles in the hips and legs, leading to low back pain even when you’re not in the office. Dr. Sharon Hame, M.D., associate clinical professor at UCLA’s department of orthopedic surgery, said,”People who sit at their computers for hours every day—they’re in for serious medical problems…, those pains go up the arm to the elbow and shoulder and then translate to the neck and back. It’s a huge problem.” The following back pain stretches will help ease these aches.
While sitting up straight on the front edge of your chair, twist your upper body toward the left side, placing your left hand on the back of your chair and your right hand on the left armrest. Once you’re gripping the chair, twist your torso toward the back as far as is comfortable. After holding for a few breaths, return to the front and repeat this action on your right side.
Front-Fold Hamstring Stretch
Standing upright and with your feet about a fist-width apart, engage your core and exhale, bending at the knees and folding forward from the hips to rest your torso on your thighs. Place your hands on the floor, on top of your shins, or clasp them behind your knees. Then, gently raise your seat upward to straighten your legs and stretch the hamstring muscles.
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