Sitting in front of a computer for hours and remaining in the same position can lead to uncomfortable and painful consequences. If you are an office worker, chances are you spend plenty of time in a chair with shoulders hunched and neck strained.
Both remote and in-office employees are at risk of developing office syndrome, a term that is used to describe a variety of physical health problems that are caused or worsened by long hours spent working in an office environment. These problems can include discomfort, pain, and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs, and can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated.
Whether you are working from home or staying at the office, these exercises listed below will help you prevent any unnecessary pain caused by the mental and physical stress of working in an office setting. Continue reading this article to learn about the best exercises to prevent office syndrome that you can easily add to your daily routine!
1. Breathing control
We all know the amazing health benefits of practicing deep breathing at home, but what if you implemented those same exercises at your office desk? Focusing on your breathing rhythm helps the muscles in your body relax, clearing stress-inducing distractions from your mind.
How to do it: Practicing breathing control is simple and effective. Sit in a relaxed position and rest your hands on your stomach, then take a deep breath, allowing plenty of air into your lungs. Push your hands up and release the breath slowly, taking care to not lift your shoulders, collarbones or upper ribs. Repeat these exercises about five times, then return to normal breathing.
You can also use these breathing control exercises to calm your nerves and help de-stress next time when you are feeling anxious about that upcoming presentation or project.
2. Chest stretch
Sitting for long periods of time with your shoulders wrapped causes the muscles to contract. This can cause pain because the blood does not flow properly to the shoulders. Take a break from hunching over your computer and relieve some pain by practicing the following chest stretch exercise.
How to do it: Chest stretches can be done in a sitting or standing position. Extend your arms behind you and clasp your fingers together. Straighten your arms and lift them up, feeling the stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 10-30 seconds, breathing deeply with relaxed shoulders. Repeat these exercises as often as necessary to help relieve muscle pain and improve blood flow.
Additionally, you can use a wall to perform a chest stretch. To do so, face a wall and place your right hand on the wall at shoulder height. Slowly turn your torso to the left. You should feel the stretch in your chest and shoulder, holding the position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat this as necessary with both sides of the body, placing your left hand on the wall and turning your body to the right. Don’t forget to breathe!
3. Shoulder shrug
Working at a desk and on a computer puts a lot of tension and strain on your shoulders. Executing a shoulder shrug exercise will help stimulate the muscles in the shoulder area, reducing muscle pain and increasing blood flow.
How to do it: To do a shoulder shrug, sit or stand in a relaxed position and inhale deeply. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and hold the contraction for a second or two, feeling the tension in your upper trapezius muscles. As you exhale, roll your shoulders back and release them to their starting position. After repeating this movement 8-10 times, repeat again with rolling your shoulders forward rather than backwards.
4. Get up from your desk
This one might seem like a no brainer, but getting up from your desk can significantly prevent office syndrome and its symptoms. Remaining in a seated position for several hours can lead to muscle tension, poor posture, neck pain, and many other issues.
How to do it: Set a timer or reminder to take a break frequently, at least every 45-60 minutes. Stand up, stretch, and move around for a while before returning to your desk. You can walk to grab some coffee or water, walk to the bathroom, or get some fresh air outside. This will help improve circulation and give your eyes a break from staring at a screen.
Pro tip: Invest in a standing or adjustable desk to help you easily switch between sitting and standing throughout the day!
5. Forward stretch
A forward stretch is an effective way to relieve tension by stretching the muscles in the back and shoulders. If you work in an office space at a desk or even work from home on your computer, you are already all too familiar with an overload of stress and tension in your upper back. Practice this stretch frequently to avoid unnecessary shoulder and back pain.
How to do it: Lace your hands together behind your back, palms facing inward. Straighten your arms and lift them up, feeling the stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds, remembering to inhale and exhale and relaxing your shoulders. Repeat this exercise several times to loosen up and relax the stress in your upper body.
You Can Prevent Office Syndrome
Office syndrome is an uncomfortable and potentially painful condition that can affect anyone who spends long periods of time at a desk. Symptoms may include discomfort, pain, and stiffness in the body, especially the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. However, it is preventable, and the above exercises are an excellent way to relieve office syndrome.
By incorporating the above exercises into your workday you can help reduce the risk of the condition and improve your overall physical health and well-being.
Your Personalized Office Symptom Prevention Regimen
Form Recovery and Wellness has expert therapists to set you up for good health and help prevent and manage pain from office syndrome. We’ll diagnose your existing issues and provide the best treatment plan to work comfortably again. Just get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you beat office syndrome.
Kodchakorn (Ked) Tawonsupajalean
Head Therapist at Form Recovery and Wellness
Kodchakorn received a Degree in Physiotherapy from Mae Fah Luang Univeristy in Chiang Rai. Kodchakorn is the Head Therapist at Form Recovery and Wellness and works closely with all the therapists from all departments to ensure that every single client who comes to us has the highest chance of success.