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Sitting All Day for Work? Easy Exercises to Help!

Cynthia Luo, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist

exercises while at work

Often clients share with me how they are experiencing daily pain including a tight neck, shoulder, back, gluteus, etc. This could be attributed to the fact that they work and sit all day in front of a computer. “It is tough!” they say and many of them feel there is nothing they can change about the situation.

Yes, now a days many jobs are heavily dependant on using computers. It’s hard to change the work style, we even use computers for reasons other than our jobs. However, we must do something different to fit them into our lives without so much physical harm.

Below are exercises you can do in just 1 to 2 minutes. And it is not necessary to do them all at once, rather pick one or two at a time and then do different exercises each time. This will help keep things interesting and will make it much easier for your daily routine.

1. Head

1) Open your fingers and use them like combs through your hair. Make sure your fingertips touch your scalp and move through your hair from front to back. Continue this movement at least 20 times, or more if you can, as it increases blood circulation and helps clear the mind.

2) Rub both palms together until they feel warm. Close your eyes and with a slight flex of the hands, gently place the warm palms over your eyelids. Repeat several times to sooth your eyes.

2. Neck

1) Hold a towel at both ends and put it behind your neck. Keep the neck slightly extended, then move the towel from left to right and right to left. Continue until the muscles on the back of the neck feel relaxed.

2) Put your four fingers (not including the thumb) on the muscles at the back of your neck, on both sides of the spine. Do slight movements on the muscles making sure all your fingers move in the same direction at one time: from left to right, right to left, upward or downward, until the muscles are relaxed.

3. Chest

Raise your arms in front of you at the same level as your shoulders. Keeping them at shoulder height, move the arms backwards, elbows move to the back at the same time, and try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will help to stretch your chest muscles.

4. Hand Towel Stretching for Your Shoulders & Arms

1) Hold a hand towel at both ends and raise it above your head. Slowly moving from left to right, then from right to left, you can also stop and hold at one end for 30 seconds. All the muscles around the shoulders and arms should feel a good stretch during this movement.

2) Hold the hand towel with one hand and move the hand behind your head. Using another hand, hold the hand towel from the lower back and slowly move the hand towel upward as much as you can. At the point you cannot go further up, stop and hold for several seconds. Then slowly move the hand towel downward as much as you can, stop and hold. This is one cycle; you can do every stretching direction three times. Switch the arms, keep the other hand on the top behind your head and repeat as noted above.

5. Hands

1) Squeeze your hands: Make your hands as tight fists, hold for several seconds and then totally open the hands as much as you can. Also try this exercise while positioning your hands above your head. Repeat 10 to 20 times to help increase hand and arm blood circulation.

2) Self massage your hands: Interlace your fingers on both hands and rub your palms together until you feel some warmth. Now use one hand to massage the other, making sure all the fingers are massaged in different directions. Be sure to also massage the palms, joints and back of both hands.

6. Spine Extension

In the standing position, move both arms up in front of you. At the same time, tilt your neck back and push your body forward. Then come back to your normal standing position. Repeat 20 times. This can help relax the spine and reduce lower back pain.

7. Stretch the Lower Back, Gluteus & Legs

Lying on the floor, flex your right leg and then bring it under your left thigh and hold the right foot with your left hand. Next, flex your left leg, move it over the right thigh so that the left foot lands on the floor beside the IT band. Now grab the left knee with your right hand and pull it down towards the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

8. Feet

1) Like your hands, squeeze your toes tightly and hold for several seconds. Then relax for a moment before you extend them outward and hold. Repeat 20 times or more. If possible, try to keep your feet raised above your heart for better circulation.

2) Rub your feet together. Make sure your soles, back of the feet, both sides of the feet and all toes are massaged enough to feel warm.

For all exercises mentioned above be sure to pay attention to:

1. Your Balance - Be sure you are stable in a sitting or standing position.

2. Your Pace - For every stretch you must go slowly. When a stretch reaches the furthest that you can go, stop and hold that position. Never try to go further as the related muscles could be strained.

3. Your Timing - In general, it is suggested that you hold every stretch for at least 30 seconds, 3 times in total. Start with 1 set and work your way up to 3 sets each day. A good routine would include these exercises 3 days a week. Keep in mind, everybody has different health conditions, schedules, and work environments. Be sure to adjust the length and reps according to your personal situation.

I challenge you to incorporate some or all these exercises into your weekly routine. It takes only a few minutes and will make a big difference in how you feel each day.

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