Given this technological age, we find ourselves spending more and more time in front of screens, whether it be desktops or laptops. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a variety of health issues that are a direct result of maintaining our bodies in a certain position for prolonged periods of time. Examples of these health issues include, but are not limited to: headaches, neck pain, back pain, repetitve strain injuries like tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, vision issues and obesity. Here are some useful pointers in terms of setting up your workstation, as well as general stretches you can incorporate into your daily routine.
PREVENTION IS THE KEY!
- TAKE SHORT STRETCHING BREAKS TO ENSURE A CHANGE IN BODY POSITION (RECOMMEND 5-10 MINUTES EVERY HOUR)
- USE A HEADSET TO ALLOW PROPER NECK ALIGNMENT WHEN WORKING ON THE COMPUTER AND SPEAKING ON THE PHONE
- OCCASIONALLY LOOK AWAY FROM THE SCREEN (OUT A WINDOW OR AT ARTWORK AT A DISTANCE) TO ALLOW EYES TO REFOCUS
- USE A LUMBAR ROLL TO HELP MAINTAIN NORMAL ARCH OF LOW BACK
- MINIMIZE GLARE ON THE SCREEN AND ENSURE APPROPRIATE LIGHTING TO AVOID FORWARD HEAD POSTURE
- REMEMBER: IT IS EASIER TO KEEP A MUSCLE OR JOINT LOOSE, INSTEAD OF TRYING TO LOOSEN IT WHEN IT IS ALREADY TIGHT!
Simple Chair Stretching Program
Key things to remember…
- Breath normally (no holding your breath)
- Do not bounce. Hold position for 20-30 seconds, 2-3 repetitions
- You should only feel a comfortable stretch, never pain! Only go as far as you need to in order to feel a stretch. Never force it. If something doesn’t feel right, STOP. In this situation it may be best to consult a physiotherapist for your specific needs.
- UPPER TRAP STRETCH – While sitting in a chair, hold the seat with one hand and place your other hand on your head to assist in bending your head to the side as shown. Bend your head towards the opposite side of the hand that is holding the chair seat. You should feel a stretch to the side of your neck.
- RETRACTION / CHIN TUCK – Slowly draw your head back so that your ears line up with your shoulders.
- SEATED LOW BACK STRETCH – While sitting in a chair, slowly bend forward and reach your hands for the floor. Bend your trunk and head forward and down.
- Seated Thoracic Extension – Sit with your back against the top of a chair or with foam roll/noodle behind and perpendicular to your spine. Support your neck with your hands and tuck elbows forward and together. Gently arch back to mobilize spine at level where chair contacts spine. Hold 1-2 seconds then slowly return.
- Hip rotator stretch – While sitting in a chair, cross your leg with the ankle of one foot on the knee of the other. Lean your trunk forward while keeping your back straight and push the top knee downward for a stretch.
- STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH – Start by standing and prop one foot on a chair or a step. Next, slowly lean forward until a stretch is felt behind your knee/thigh. Bend through your hips and not your spine. Hold, then return to starting position and repeat.
- WRIST EXTENSOR STRETCH – Use one hand to bend the other wrist down as shown. Keep the elbow straight on the stretching side the entire time.
- WRIST FLEXOR STRETCH – Use one hand to bend the other wrist up as shown. Keep the elbow straight on the stretching side the entire time