Take a stretch break

Easy exercises can prevent problems and allow your body to do the work you ask it to do. You will even feel a boost of energy! You can do these exercises at your desk or anywhere throughout the day. The more often you do them, the better you will feel. You can time your exercises to something you do frequently, like using the printer. While waiting, you can do a few exercises and make use of "empty" time. This also establishes a regular exercise habit!

Stretching brings nutrients to your muscles and relieves tension. It increases the feeling of well-being and improves flexibility. When possible, take breaks away from the computer and stretch whatever area feels tight. Stretch slowly without bouncing, and gradually increase the stretch to your tolerance. You should not stretch into pain.

Strengthening keeps muscles strong and helps to prevent any future problems. After exercising, you should pay close attention to how your body feels, and ask your physiotherapist to explain anything you don't understand. Awareness of your body's pain signals can help prevent injury as well as help recover from it.

The following is a suggested list of helpful exercises targeting several areas of the body.

Modify each exercise to your comfort level and discontinue any exercise that makes you feel worse. These exercises are most effective when done multiple times throughout the day. They make excellent stretch breaks at work.

Neck

  • Neck rotation: Sit or stand up straight. Turn your head from side to side without moving your shoulders or upper back. Hold 3 to 5 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times each side.
  • Shoulder rolls: Move your shoulders up and backward in a circle. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Chin tucks: Sit up tall and look straight ahead. Slowly tuck your chin in towards you (like making a double chin). Hold 5 to 10 seconds, then relax your chin.

Upper back

  • Shoulder blade pinch: With your arms by your side, bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Squeeze your shoulder blades together downward and backward. Do not let your low back arch or your head move forward. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Pectoral (chest) stretch: Place one forearm against a wall or door. The elbow should be level with the shoulder. Turn your body away from your arm. You should feel a stretch at the front of your shoulder and into the chest. Hold 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat 1 to 2 times each side.

Lower back and legs

  • Abdominals: Sit with your buttocks against the back of a chair and tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling them toward your spine (flatten them and avoid pushing them outward). Keep your chest relaxed and continue to breathe normally while you hold the abdominals tight for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Hamstring stretch: Sit with your buttocks against the back of the chair, straighten your knee and feel the stretch in the back of your leg. To increase the stretch, lift your toes toward you. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat 1 to 2 times each leg.
  • Low back extension: Stand up with your feet apart and place your palms on your lower back. Gently bend backwards, letting your back arch a comfortable amount. Pause 2 to 3 seconds, repeat 1 to 3 times.

Arms and hands

  • Wrist extensor stretch: Hold your arm straight in front of you, palm down, and bend your wrist down. With your other hand over the knuckles, gently pull the hand down until you feel a stretch in the top of the wrist and forearm. To increase the stretch, make a relaxed fist. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, repeat 2 to 3 times each side.
  • Wrist flexor stretch: Hold your arm straight out in front of you, palm up, and bend your wrist back with fingers pointing down. With your other hand, gently pull the fingers back to increase the stretch. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, repeat 2 to 3 times.

Eyes

  • Clock diagonals: Visualize a clock. Move your eyes in a straight line, beginning from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock, then 1 o'clock to 7 o'clock and so on until you have completed a circle. Keep your head still and move your eyes slowly to avoid straining them.

Cardiovascular exercise

Finally, it is important to find some time 2 to 3 times a week to do 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Make it fun! Getting the heart rate up improves circulation and gets important nutrients to all the different parts of our bodies. This promotes stress reduction, body weight regulation and quality sleep. You will also be helping your body keep fit for life!

The contents of this health site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.

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