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Desk Exercises

How to stay supple while working from your office

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Office Exercise

You’ve heard the latest craze… Sitting is the new smoking.

If you work in an office, sitting in front of a computer screen all day doesn’t bode well for your health!

So, in order to keep your entire body as supple as your mouse hand, we have compiled a list of “desk exercises” – simple exercises that you can do whilst sitting at your desk.

For further information on posture and office exercise, please take a look at our other articles in the workplace series.

Neck Region

The general rule is that you want to align your neck with your spine to avoid stress of the muscles and soft tissues.

For all of the neck exercises below make sure you are sitting upright and your spine straight.

From this position:

Neck retraction

Move your head forward as far as possible.

Gradually inverse the movement by shifting your head back as far as possible.

Your head should remain level all through the stretch.

You will feel the stretch at the base of your cervical region or neck.

Repeat 4-5 times.

Head Rolls

Slowly lower your ear to shoulder and hold this position for 10 seconds.

Gradually roll chin to chest and up to the other shoulder and hold again for 10 seconds.

Repeat slowly.

Be cautious not to overextend your neck.

Head Turns

Turn your head to see your right shoulder, keeping your chin parallel to the floor and hold for 10 seconds.

Turn your head the other way and hold for 10 seconds.

Repeat 4-5 times.

Chin Dip & Raises

Slowly dip your head until your chin touches your chest.

Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Then return to your starting position.

Next, lean your head back, looking up to the ceiling.

Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds.

Repeat the stretch in each direction 5 times.

Upper Limbs

Continuous stress and poor ergonomics can lead to tension in your upper limbs.

For all of the exercises below make sure that you inhale deeply before each stretch and exhale heavily as you stretch to release tension and increase the intensity of your stretches.

Shoulder Shrugs

Gradually raise and lower your shoulders the way you do when you don’t know something or you are confused at some point.

Make sure you don’t compress your neck.

Repeat 10 times.

Shoulder Stretch

Extend your arm above head, support elbow with your hand and slightly pull your elbow behind your head, reaching down the middle of your back with your extended arm.

Hold this position for 10 seconds.

Repeat on each arm 5 times.

Shoulder Rolls / Shoulder Circumduction

Circle shoulders forward for 5 rotations.

Circle shoulders backward for 5 rotations.

Repeat 3-5 times.

Wrist & Elbow Stretch

Interlock your fingers with palms facing outward.

Extend your arms straight in front of you.

Hold for 10 seconds.

Repeat 5 times.

Wrist Stretch

Straighten your arm in front then bend your wrist forward.

Gently assist the stretch with your other hand and hold for 10 seconds.

Then stretch your wrist back and hold again for 10 seconds.

Repeat the same with other arm.

Hand / Finger Exercise

Take an elastic band and place it around your fingers and thumb.

Stretch the band to the degree that it will extend by spreading your fingers then gradually release it.

Repeat 10 times on each hand.

Stress Ball / Therapeutic Ball Squeeze

A long-standing, yet a decent approach to enhance productivity and bust stress!

It’s also a good technique to maintain normal movements of your hands, wrist and forearms, as well as increasing your grip strength.

Back & Hip Region

This is a big one when it comes to office injuries! Regardless of whether it’s an infrequent twinge or a continuous back ache, most office workers get some sort of back trouble during their working lives.

Again, with the exercises below, make sure that you inhale deeply before each stretch and exhale heavily as you stretch to release tension and increase the intensity of your stretch as well as improving circulation.

Upper & Lower Back Stretch

Raise your arms above your head.

Interlock your fingers.

Turn your palms upward above your head.

Push away from yourself.

While your arms are extended above your head, you can also gradually lean to one side until you feel a stretch. Do this both sides and repeat 5 times per side.

Spinal Twist

Keep seated with your knees in line with each other.

Put your left hand on your right knee and twist your whole abdominal area and upper body to one side while looking behind your shoulder.

Hold this position.

At that point twist back and repeat the same on the other side.

Back Clasp

Clasp hands behind your lower back.

Push your chest outward, raise your chin and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

A simple way to complete this stretch is to imagine that there were two poles of a magnet on either elbow and they were attracting.

Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Seated Hip Stretch

Sit towards the center of your chair with your feet placed flat on the floor.

Position one ankle on top of the opposite knee and sit upright maintaining a straight back.

Then tilt forward from your waist until the point that you feel the stretch.

Hold for 30 seconds each side.

Lower Limbs

If you don’t sit properly, and let’s be realistic a considerable number of people don’t, you could reduce the blood flow to your legs.

Make sure that you keep the blood flowing by utilising the following stretches:

Seated Leg Raise

Sit and grip each side of your chair to maintain balance.

Lift your straightened leg then flex your foot (point your toes up to the ceiling – and back towards you if you’re flexible). Hold for 10 seconds.

Then extend your foot (point your toes away/straight in front of you). Hold for 10 seconds.

Then gradually bring down your leg.

Repeat the same for other leg.

Seated Calf Raise

Maintain the same posture as the seated leg raises (above).

Push up onto the balls of your feet and lift your heels off the floor.

Hold this contraction for 10 seconds (or more) until you feel the stretch.

Then drop your heels to the floor slowly and then lift up your toes pointing them as vertically as possible.

Hold this extension for 10 seconds (or more) until you feel the stretch.

Then gradually bring down your toes.

Seated Hamstring Curls

Maintain the same posture as the seated leg raises (above).

Squeeze your glutes (bum), thighs and hamstrings.

Contract the hamstring by lifting one heel up to your bum, keeping your thighs in a horizontal position.

Squeeze and hold this contraction for 10 seconds (or more) until you feel the burn.

Then drop your heel to the floor slowly (in the reverse motion to the contraction).

Repeat with the other leg.

Foot Rotation

Hold the chair with your hands either side.

Straighten your leg and lift foot a few inches off from floor.

Rotate foot from your ankle both ways.

Rotate 10 times.

Repeat this with each foot several times.


Stay active in the office

People often don’t realize how easy it is keep yourself supple and mobile even while sitting at your desk!

Just take a few moments each day to follow the exercises in this article and watch your mood, productivity and flexibility develop.

It’s true that you spend most of your life at work so in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to create a healthy office culture, so spread the message and utilise the wealth of information provided on our website …

For more information on our exercises in the workplace, see our full Workplace series here.

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