Do you spend your day sat at a desk? Make sure you use these stretches to reduce pain and protect your back and neck.
Unfortunately, we spend more and more time sat at a desk. Sitting for long periods of time can be harmful to your body, particularly the back. Extended computer use can put strain on the spine and arms, leading to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and poor posture.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a general term that is given for pain in muscles, tendons and nerves caused by overuse and repetition. It is common in the shoulder, forearm and wrist and hands from computer use.
Sitting for long periods of time can cause shortening of the Hip Flexor muscles, which can lead to an anterior tilted pelvis. This poor posture can cause lower back pain. Sitting at a desk can also put strain on the Thoracic Spine (mid and upper back) and the Cervical Spine (neck).
It is important to make sure that your desk is set up correctly to avoid injury.
Key points for your desk set up are:
Monitor height- The top of the monitor should be at about eye level.
Keyboard and mouse position- your forearms should be parallel to the desk, with your wrists resting on the desk. Your keyboard and mouse should be in a position to allow your arms to rest on the desk.
Seat support- You should be sat back into the chair, with your lower back supported by the lumbar support of the chair
Seat height- Your feet should be flat on the floor (or a footrest if needed), and your hips and knees should be at 90 degree angles.
If your desk has been set up correctly, it does not mean that you shouldn’t stretch. These simple stretches should be completed at least once a day to prevent shortening and tightening of key muscle groups that could lead to poor posture. Each stretch should be held for 15 seconds, and repeated 2-3 times.
Hip flexor stretch
The importance of the Hip Flexor stretch has been described previously.
Kneel down on one knee with the other foot in front. Your front leg hip and knee should start at 90 degrees. Lunge , pushing the hip forwards. You will feel a stretch in the front of the thigh and the hip. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3 times.
With a straight elbow, bend the wrist, using the other hand to pull the hand down. You will feel a stretch on the top of the forearm.
Repeat by extending the wrist, using the other hand to pull the fingers and hand up. You will feel a stretch on the underside of the forearm.
Repeat for both arms.
Neck side flexion stretch
Place one hand behind the back. Lean the head to the opposite side, using the other hand to assist the stretch. You will feel a stretch on top of the shoulder and into the neck. Repeat for both sides.
Either standing or sitting, put both hands behind the back and lock the fingers. Push the arms back as far as you can, making sure your back remains straight. You will feel a stretch across the front of the shoulder and chest.
Upper back stretch
Keeping a straight back, hold your arms in front of you and lock the fingers. Push the arms forwards. You will feel a stretch across the upper back and back of the shoulders.
These exercises should not be painful. You should feel a gentle stretch.
If you are experiencing pain regularly, you should get your injury assessed. Treatments such as massage, manipulation, and acupuncture can be used to relieve pain and improve mobility.
Remember- everyone is different, and all injuries are different. This article is for information only and does not constitute advice for your injury. You should consult a qualified therapist to accurately diagnose and treat your injury. You can book in with one of our experts at The Treatment Lab by calling us on 01908 766425.
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