Daily Stretches For The Office Worker

There are no shortages of studies that indicate that Canadians are struggling with maintaining a healthy weight. Our lifestyle choices ultimately are the main contributing factor to becoming overweight; incorrect food choices, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption greatly contribute to excess weight.

Many of us are in a chair at a desk 6 – 8 hours a day and without any form of exercise throughout this time period, the body will pay the price.


Stretching is important for a multitude of reasons. Increasing the flow of oxygen throughout the body by regular stretching is critical in order to have healthy blood circulation. Far too many minor aches and pains stem from the lack of oxygen in the blood stream which also causes tension and tightness in the muscles. Making time to stretch for 15 minutes a day can lead to improvements.  A great example of how many of us automatically correct circulation is when we are working at a desk and the tension builds in the neck and shoulder – most of us will slowly move our head in circles to alleviate that feeling; what we are doing is stretching those muscles in order to increase the flow of oxygen.

Our muscles need oxygen and stretching accomplished this. Those who stretch regularly feel the benefits for muscles that are less tense, less aching and less strained.

Stretching While At Work

Taking regular 60 second breaks to stretch throughout the work day is easy. Here are some suggestions to get oxygen moving into your blood stream. (All the below stretches are not to be done on chairs that have castor wheels. The chair must have 4 legs.)

  1. While sitting and with proper posture, lower your chin as far as you can (to your chest). Slowly raise your head until the back of your head touches your back.
  2. Slowly turn your head side-to-side with the ultimate goal of eventually getting the chin over each shoulder.
  3. Make circles with your head – slowly.
  4. Place both feet on the floor and sit straight – chest out and move both arms behind you until you can hold your hands behind the back – hold this position 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Take your right arm and hold it straight up – bend the elbow downwards until behind the back – with the left hand hold the right elbow and slightly pull until you feel the stretch and hold it for 5 – 10 seconds.  Repeat with the opposite arm.
  6. While sitting place both feet on the floor place the left foot on the right knee. Slowly lower left knee until you feel a stretch in the upper outer thigh area – hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat. Then alternate legs.
  7. Sit on the edge of your chair with both feet on the floor at shoulder-width distance.   Slowly lower the torso with your arms extended in front – stretch as low and as forward as possible until you feel a good stretch. Hold it for 5-10 seconds, slowly release and repeat 3 or 4 times.

These “extra” fun stretching exercises that can only be done only with a wooden chair in good condition (that has solid arms and four legs securely on the floor) positioned on carpeting so that it cannot move.

  1. When time at the computer desk is spent reading (or watching television), pull the chair out to a comfortable distance. Place both feet flat on the floor and while keeping the back straight, use only the arms to slowly lift the body until the elbows are straightened. Hold that position as long as possible, and then slowly lower the body back to the chair. Repeat this exercise as frequently as possible when spending “reading time” at the computer. This will benefit the forearms, upper arms and shoulders.
  2. At the desk, position the chair at an angle to free up leg space. Keep the back straight with both feet on the floor. Lift one leg off the floor about 10 cm (4”). Slowly straighten the leg to about a 140 degree angle. Hold that position. Then raise the leg higher and hold as long as possible then slowly release. Use your arms to help alleviate any unnecessary pressure on the lower back. This move will work out the quadriceps, calves and the tibialis anterior muscle.
  3. Using the chair leg lift exercise, do the same only this time, firmly hold onto the arms of the chair and lift both legs simultaneously. Repeat as mentioned above. This time, not only are the legs getting a workout, but so are the abs, arms and shoulders.
  4. While preparing a meal or hand washing dishes, stand erect. Choose one leg and bend the knee back until there is a 90 degree angle. Then using the upper part of that leg lift up until the gluts feel tight. Remember to keep the back straight by bending slightly forward from the hips in order to alleviate any strain on the lower back. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly release. Repeat as many times as the comfort level permits, remembering to alternate legs.

These simple stretching exercises, if done on a daily basis, will soon become so routine you’ll notice the difference.

For further information, Chiro-Med Rehab Clinic in Richmond Hill has a walk-in clinic conveniently located at 10144 Yonge Street, just north of Major MacKenzie Drive in the heart of Richmond Hill. The health professionals at Chiro-Med can help you with these or other stretching ideas to help you feel great. Drop on by or call 905-918-0419 for more information or to book a consultation.

March 7, 2014

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