How to have a healthy routine by moving and stretching at work?

14.03.2023, Anna Comet

 

How to face an 8-hour working day sitting in a chair in front of the computer or next to a machine without moving that much?

 

We know a sedentary lifestyle is not the most appropriate, and consequently, we feel guilty for not having healthier habits or an active lifestyle. Nonetheless, on many occasions, the reality is that daily duties (work, family, personal time, etc.) make it more difficult.

 

The consequences of not moving or spending many hours in the same position, like sitting or standing in front of a machine, are musculoskeletal injuries. As a result, we feel back pain, headaches, and inflammation in the elbow or wrist area, among others.

 

We know that having an ideal and healthy routine can be difficult with all the obligations of our daily life. Nonetheless, we want to show you how to carry out a series of exercises that will help us prevent the already-mentioned discomforts. What is more, these exercises do not require much time if you do them regularly!

 

We can divide these exercises into two groups: on the one hand, some exercises that we can perform at the beginning of the day to prepare the body for those 8 hours that we will spend in the specific position and, on the other hand, exercises or actions that we can perform while working.

 

All of them are intended to make momentary position changes and to "pamper" those muscles and joints that are most affected.

 

 

WHAT EXERCISES CAN WE DO TO START?

 

Firstly, we will explain the exercises that can be carried out at the beginning of the day to activate our bodies and prepare ourselves for work. These are simple warm-up and mobility exercises for different parts of the body. We do not need to dedicate more than 5 minutes each day before starting to work:

 

We will stand up and begin to move, from head to toe, each of the main joints. Every move will always be smooth, without forcing any gesture, as the sensation should be pleasant, and we should never feel pain when doing it.

 

  • We can start with the neck, moving it in smooth circles in both directions and making the gesture of saying yes and no.
  • We will continue through the shoulders. Start moving the shoulders while doing circles back and forward, with the back straight and the arms stretched out next to the body.
  • We will continue with the elbows performing some flexions and extensions.
  • Wrists will be next. These can also make circles in both directions. And then fingers of the hands, we will open and close the hands from the maximum extension to the fist.
  • Followingly, we will go down to the hips. We can make four movements with the hips, the circles towards the two directions, and we can move the pubis forwards and backward.
  • The next step is the knees which we will carry out some soft push-ups and, if wanted, move while doing circles.
  • Finally, we have the ankles that can also perform push-ups and draw circles by planting the tip of the foot on the ground and rotating the heel on the foot.

 

We can start the first days doing 5 movements of each and increase up to 15 as the weeks go by. Now we are ready to start the working day!

 

 

WHAT CAN I DO WHILE WORKING?

 

During the 8 hours that we will be sitting or with the appropriate position, we recommend the following movements (it would be good to do it every 60 or 90 minutes):

 

- Get up from the chair or the workplace and walk a bit. Where to? You can either go to the bathroom, to go get a glass of water or, if we have the opportunity, go up and down some stairs. If we can be on the move for a couple of minutes, that would be ideal.

- Brief general stretching: (each stretch can be done for about 10 or 15 seconds)

  • In the cervical area, with the back straight and supported on the chair, we can tilt the neck to the different sides seeking to notice the stretch very smoothly and never abruptly.
  • Now, focus on the back. We can stand in front of the table with our legs semi-flexed and our hands holding onto the table. Straighten the back and move gently to one side and the other, noticing the different parts of the back as they go stretching.
  • Another that we can do very well for the back is in a standing position with the legs slightly apart, we place one hand on the waist and the other arm lying well above the head looking for the opposite side to feel how it stretches the entire rib area.
  • For the legs, we will try to stretch the quadriceps. We will support ourselves with one hand on the table and with the other, we will take the tip of the foot that we will have flexed towards the buttocks. We can also flex the legs to activate the quadriceps and glutes.
  • Finally, we can stretch the calves looking to put the tip of the foot on a step and leaving the heel free and can go down slowly.

- We can start by doing 5 repetitions and increase to 15 over time for each exercise.

 

 

IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE AN ACTIVE ROUTINE

 

The mentioned exercises are very simple and do not require much time. Moreover, activating our body offers us well-being and prevents future problems because our body is not designed to spend so many hours in the same position, much less with inactivity. The muscles and joints are designed to be in motion and, due to lack of movement and spending so many hours in the same position there are so many musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.

 

It is important to remember that these exercises cannot replace healthy habits and much less can we do them thinking that we are doing physical activity to prevent many diseases such as type II diabetes, obesity, or other coronary diseases, but they can help us maintain musculoskeletal structure in better condition or with less deterioration.

 

It must be borne in mind that these exercises are generic and designed for those people who do not suffer from any type of pathology. If a worker suffers from some type of specific condition, they must consult with a specialist if they can be carried out safely and healthily.