Easy stretches to do at your desk

S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
Ask Louise

17 December 2018

Neck stretches

1. Hang your arms by your side, keeping your shoulders relaxed.

2. Slowly tilt your head backwards and then hold this position for 5 seconds to stretch the front of your neck.

3. Next tilt your head forwards till you chin is on your chest. Hold for another 5 seconds. 

 4. Lift your head till its facing forwards and then turn your head to the right until you’re looking over your shoulder. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then turn to look over your left shoulder and hold for another 5 seconds.

5. Face forwards once again then bring your right ear to your right shoulder, taking care to stay relaxed (don’t bring your shoulder to your ear just yet!). Hold for five seconds and then repeat on the other side.

6. Finally, turn your head till you are facing over your left shoulder, hold, and then turn to do the same on the other side. 

Hand and wrist stretches

1. Spread your fingers out and then stretch them as widely as you can. Hold this for 10 seconds and then tighten your fingers into a ball shape to hold for another 10 seconds.

2. Extend your arms out in front of you then bend your wrists back until your fingers are facing the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then bend your wrists down until your fingers are pointing towards the floor. Hold again for another 10 seconds.

3. Next, with your elbows bent closely together, interlock your fingers. Rotate your hands and wrists clockwise 10 times in one direction then change direction for another 10 circles.

4. Place your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest. Keeping your palms together rotate your wrists away from your body. Point your fingers downwards until you feel a mild stretch but don’t let your shoulders tense or lift whilst you do this one. Hold for 10 seconds. 

Back stretches

1. Place your right hand on your left shoulder and then place your left hand on your right shoulder.

2. Sitting up straight with your feet planted firmly on the ground, turn your body till you are facing left (keep those feet firmly on the ground as you do this!).

3. Hold this position for a few seconds and then turn to the right side and hold for a few seconds.

4. Next put your hands on your knees and bend your body forwards till you feel a stretch in your back. With you hands still on your knees, lift your head up towards the ceiling. Take care to pull your back away from the chair so that it feels a good stretch. 

Shoulder stretches

1. Bring your shoulders up to your ears, hold for 5 seconds and then relax your shoulders down to their natural position

2. Interlace your fingers, turn your palms away from you and then stretch your arms out in front of you. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds

3. Keeping your fingers interlaced and your palms facing out, stretch your arms up and over your head.  Hold this position for another 5 seconds and breathe deeply

4. Move your hands to cup the back of your head and then interlace your fingers again. Hold this position for a few seconds and then bring your elbows together until they are in front of your face. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat this step

5. Next put the palm of your right hand on the back of your neck so that it is facing downwards. Place your left hand on your right elbow and then push it gently until you feel a little stretch. Hold this for a few seconds and then repeat on the opposite side. 

6. Finally, stretch your left arm to the right and the use your right hand to hold your elbow. This will encourage a gentle stretch. Swap and do the same with your other arm.  

Leg and ankle stretches

1. Stretch your legs out in front of you with your feet pointing upwards. Next push your knees downwards until you feel a nice stretch in your legs

2. Afterwards point your toes forwards and hold for a few seconds then bring your toes back upwards until they are facing the ceiling. Do this a few times until you feel the tension ease in your legs

3. This time lift your right leg off the ground and start drawing large circles with the tip of your toe. Do this 5 times in one direction and then another 5 in the opposite direction. Swap to the other leg and repeat.

How does a desk job affect your health?

With businesses and organisations increasingly reliant on technology (namely computers), the number of people in office jobs has steadily grown in recent years. Although this offers businesses and organisations more opportunities than ever before, it does offer some health problems for the workers sat at their desks all day. 

Our Eye Health Adviser Felicity has discussed how technology exposes us to lots of blue light. This can cause problems such as eye strain, Computer Vision Syndrome and, in the long run, more serious issues such as macular degeneration. However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Employing some simple exercises will give your eyes the break they deserve so read Felicity’s blog on how to do these. 

Another problem with desk work is that we don’t burn as much energy as we would in a more active role, plus we’re often snacking more too and so the two together don’t bode well for our overall health or body shape. That’s why I always recommend taking a walk at lunch time, plus it’s important to incorporate some exercise into your evening routine too. 

Failing to remain good posture whilst you work at your desk can cause lead to back pain, whist lack of activity in the muscles can, over time, weaken them. However, again don’t despair too much! Modern working environments have adopted a range of tactics to tackle these problems including using standing desks and stretching areas. Therefore, if your company hasn’t already tried these things out, why not speak to a manager about getting it started?

Other tips for a healthy working environment

As well as incorporating some simple stretches into your working day, there are a number of other things you can do to keep your body comfortable whilst you work.

  • A footrest and lumbar support cushion will help to keep your legs and back straight thus ensuring good posture
  • A wrist rest at both your keyboard and computer mouse will give this area some support and cushioning 

Also, during the working day, we can often become reliant on caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea but, as I’m sure you are aware, this isn’t the healthiest choice! So, as an alternative, you could swap to the likes of herbal tea.

My personal favourite would have to be peppermint tea which has a light, refreshing flavour –  just what you need to pick you up whilst at work!

If you aren’t a tea drinker though, then our Bambu coffee substitute may be a better option. This is a tasty caffeine-free alternative to coffee that can be drunk at any time of the day. The product is 100% natural and is made from a unique mix of organic chicory, Turkish figs, malted barley, wheat and Greek acorns. Delicious!

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