Between back and neck problems from sitting all day and hand and wrist pain from typing, the average office job can wreak havoc on your body and set you up for a lot of health problems later on. In fact, work-related musculoskeletal issues make up nearly one-third of all worker injury and illness cases.
To avoid the negative effects that come with a typical desk job, make sure you’re doing these four exercises regularly.
1. Chin Tucks
Chin tucks can be done throughout your work day to combat the neck strain that comes with looking at the computer screen.
To do a chin tuck properly, simply look straight ahead and pull your head back as far as you’re comfortably able to retract your chin. Do 10 repetitions every hour (if you forget, set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you).
The purpose of this exercise is to reverse a slouching in your neck and back that causes you to hunch forward toward the computer screen. This kind of posture is particularly bad for the neck, shoulders, and back.
2. Hip Flexor Stretch
Sitting all day often results in tight hip flexors. This can lead to improper movement patterns that cause low back and knee pain.
One of the easiest ways to counteract tight hip flexors is to spend a few minutes stretching them after work — or even while you’re on the job if you have time.
To stretch the hip flexors, get down on all fours. Then, take a step forward with your right foot so you’re in a lunge position. If you have the range of motion to do so, walk your foot forward until your knee is directly above your ankle.
Keep your hips tucked under (don’t arch the lower back) to feel a stretch in the hip flexor and quadricep. Hold for about thirty seconds, then switch sides. Repeat three times.
3. Wrist Curls
If you spend hours a day typing on the computer, don’t forget your wrists! Wrist curls with wrist weights help stretch and strengthen the forearms and hands to minimize the pressure your job places on them.
Exercising your wrists and forearms regularly decrease the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This painful condition occurs when the median nerve, which is located in your wrist, becomes compressed.
To do wrist curls, grab a pair of light dumbbells (1-3 pounds is usually plenty) or special wrist weights. Then, sit with your forearm flat on a table or the arm of a chair with your palm facing up. Bend your wrist to curl the weight toward you, then lower it back down. Do three sets 10-12 reps on each arm.
You can also do reverse wrist curls by flipping the arm so the palm is facing down. Bend the wrist to curl the weight down and away from your body.
4. Lying Leg Lifts
Sitting all day can also weaken the gluteus medius, a muscle in the glutes that is necessary for supporting the pelvis and keeping you balanced. Weak gluteus medius muscles can cause the hip to drop while walking, which can lead to hip pain and low back pain.
To strengthen your gluteus medius, try doing lying leg lifts four or five times per week. This is an easy exercise to do at the end of the day while you’re watching TV or relaxing with your family.
Lie on your side with your back against the wall. Pull your belly button in toward your spine, then slowly raise your top leg as high as you can while keeping the toes pointing forward and your heel touching the wall. Hold for two seconds at the top of the exercise, then lower your leg back to the beginning position.
Do ten repetitions, then switch sides.
Do these exercises on breaks at work or at the end of the day to help counteract the negative effects of your desk job. Make sure you’re also taking time to get up and walk during the day, too. If you make an effort to prioritize these movements, you’ll feel better and be able to get more done while you’re at work – it’s a win-win!