12 Sep Quick Guide to Stretching and Ergonomics
Ergonomics is the study of how to improve worker efficiency and well-being, and this term has been used to describe certain kinds of chairs, desks, and even mouse pads that are believed to reduce chronic strain and improve the efficiency of office workers.
The term “ergonomics” also applies to various exercises and stretches that you can do from your desk, and in this guide, we’ll introduce you to the concept of ergonomics and detail some of the ergonomic exercises that you can do without even having to leave your desk.
What Are the Benefits of Ergonomic Exercises?
Whenever you remain seated for a significant amount of time, your blood flow decreases, and your muscles will gradually atrophy. Nobody’s expecting you to bring a bench press to work, but even standing up and moving around for a few minutes every hour can improve your efficiency to a significant degree.
The main purpose of ergonomic exercises is to keep your body moving and active, which leads to greater mental alertness and reduced strain on your legs, back, hands, wrists, and other parts of your body that can be adversely affected by office work.
Ergonomic Exercises for Your Hands, Wrists, and Arms
Not moving around enough throughout your workday can cause a variety of different conditions that commonly affect your wrists, hands, and even your lower and upper arms. Here are a few ergonomic exercises that will help you take care of your typing and clicking extremities and give you the greatest possible chances of success in the workplace:
1. Wrist Flexion
The tendons in your hands and wrists become strained from repetitive motions like typing and moving a mouse. Remembering to do simple wrist flexion exercises throughout the day, however, can return flexibility to your wrists and reduce your chances of developing conditions like carpal tunnel. Here’s how it’s done:
- Hold one arm in front of you with the palm facing outward
- Extend your other arm, and hook your other hand over your outstretched palm at the base of your fingers
- Gently pull your hand and fingers toward you and hold for around 5-10 seconds
- Release, and repeat on the other side
2. Wrist Tilt
In addition to stretching your wrists back with wrist flexion exercises, it’s also important to provide these crucial joints with relief from stress by stretching them from side to side. Here’s how to do a simple wrist tilt exercise; just remember to keep tilting your wrists throughout the day for maximum relief:
- Extend your arm outward with your hand vertical
- Like you’re waving, gently raise and lower your hand up and down
- Repeat this motion 5-10 times on each side
3. Finger Stretch
Your wrists aren’t the only parts of your hands that get tired after extended bouts at the keyboard. You’ll also need to make sure to give your fingers plenty of love to keep them from getting tight and uncomfortable. Here’s how to do finger stretches that will improve circulation in your hands and make your fingers feel less numb:
- Extend both arms outward with your palms facing down
- Splay your fingers out as far as you can, and stretch them outward
- Hold the stretch for a few seconds, and then repeat it around 5-10 times with each hand
Ergonomic Exercises for Your Neck, Shoulders, and Chest
While many office workers spend extended amounts of time working at computers, any type of activity that involves a lot of sitting in a chair will put strain on your neck, shoulders, chest, and back.
Reducing strain in these parts of your body will improve circulation throughout your system, and making sure to lightly exercise and stretch your trunk area will also reduce your chances of developing lower back pain and other chronic conditions that can severely reduce your quality of life.
Here are a few of our favorite ergonomic exercises for your neck, shoulders, and chest:
1. Overhead Shoulder Stretch
As one of the most classic ergonomic exercises, the overhead shoulder stretch is so easy that you can do it without even getting up from your chair. Here’s how to do it:
- Raise one arm straight upward, and put your hand behind your head
- Use your other arm to push your elbow downward, which stretches your shoulder and back
- Hold the position for about 10 seconds, then release and repeat on the other side
2. Shoulder Roll
You’ll need to stand up for this one, but we promise it will be worth it:
- Stand up with your arms straight down by your sides
- Hunch your shoulders up, and move them forward
- Move your shoulder joints around on both sides until they’ve made a full circle
3. Chest Stretch
If you tend to hunch over your desk, the chest stretch is a must-do throughout the day:
- Stand upright, and put your hands behind your head
- Interlock your fingers, and squeeze your shoulder blades together
- Hold this position for about 10 seconds, then let your hands fall to your sides
Make Sure to Keep Moving Throughout the Day
When you’re at work, it’s natural to want to simply sit down and get the job done. Focusing too intensely on the task at hand can, however, actually reduce your ability to take care of business, and taking a slightly more relaxed attitude and giving yourself time to stretch and exercise throughout the day will improve your usefulness within your organization.
You might think that it will look good if you single-mindedly only focus on work day-in and day-out, but your superiors will actually appreciate your efforts more if you take time to take care of yourself.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain or stiffness that’s beyond the power of mere ergonomic exercises to heal, work with a qualified physical therapist in your area to get your body back on track.