Its coming to that time of the year again. Many of us have been working away to meet those EOFY deadlines; that means more work and more time at your desk! It has almost been a year since we began Office Worker series of blogs so its only fitting that this time around we finish off this series of posts.
If you've missed our previous posts on office workers they can be found here:
Office Workers: EOFY - Office Warriors Under Siege (Part 1 of 3)
Office Workers: The Science of Sitting - When Sit Happens (Part 2 of 3)
We had previously touched on the negative impacts of prolonged sitting and the importance of an individualised workstation setup. Here we will look at some very simple exercises aimed at targeting the major muscle groups typically involved in prolonged sitting and typing injuries that you can perform at your desk to prevent the onset of muscular symptoms - I'd like to call them: 'DESKERCISES'
The main aim of these exercises are to delay the onset of muscular fatigue by:
Allowing the muscles to stretch and contract at different lengths, which will improve blood flow
Promote range of motion
Vary your position and posture
Give you a small micro-break during a repetitive/sustained task
First up a few ground rules:
All of these exercises/stretches are designed to be performed pain-free. If you do experience any pain then STOP and contact us or your treating therapist.
All demonstrated exercises/stretches and their dosages are rough guidelines, so please follow along as long as it feels comfortable to you.
Make sure all of these are performed gently as there is no need to achieve maximal range of motion or a maximal contraction.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
This large muscle is responsible for head extension (looking up) and lateral flexion (ear to shoulder) and can often be implicated in headaches and postural issues.
Sitting at your desk for a long period of time can often result in a hunched or rounded upper back posture. This can leave your chest and shoulder muscles tight and affect your neck position too.
Gently drawing your shoulder-blades back and down activates your Lower Trapezius and Rhomboid muscles which will improve your sitting position, and prevents your chest and shoulder muscles from excessively rounding.
From all the hours you spend typing, this is a great stretch to perform to relieve tension in your wrist flexors and extensor muscles and provide a mini-break away from the keyboard without sacrificing too much time.
These mini-breaks are crucial in preventing the onset of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI).
Seated Trunk Rotation Stretch
Prolonged sitting can also cause thoracic (mid-back) stiffness which in turn can affect the neck, low back or even your shoulder mobility. The following stretches should be performed comfortably on both sides.
Along with the Seated Trunk Rotation Stretch which facilitates rotation of the joints in the mid-back, the following stretch is aimed at promoting extension through the thoracic spine to offset the postural loads from prolonged sitting.
The following stretch targets the back of the shoulder which can also get tight with prolonged/sustained typing and administrative tasks.
The Most Important Deskercise
The following exercise is by far the most important for injury prevention and for your overall health, especially if you spend a lot of time at your desk. Do this at least once every 30-60mins!!
As previously mentioned if you experienced any muscular pain other than a stretch please do not push further into the exercises/stretches.
At OccFit Physiotherapy we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality of injury management and prevention services tailored to your specific needs.
If you have any questions about the above exercises, if you have other questions regarding injury management and prevention, or if you would like more information about our Ergonomic Workstation Assesments or about our Workplace Physiotherapy Services, please feel free to get in touch with us.