It is 6 pm, and you are on your way home after a long day at work. Which of the following are you experiencing?
2. Neck, arm and shoulder pain
3. Soreness in your back
4. Muscular stiffness
If you recognise one or more of these symptoms, it is likely that you have become victim to the strain and tension caused by sitting still for too long.
Modern lifestyles, especially working at a desk all day, can have a significant impact on our general health and well-being. Not only do our bodies become tense and sore, but in the longer term, we are also more likely to develop conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. As more and more of us spend our days glued to a screen for hours on end, doctors at Apollo Hospitals India say that inactivity-related conditions are something that they see all too often.
A major issue is that a lot of people take a therapeutic approach to pain and discomfort after being seated all day, instead of fixing the cause itself. So, they will pop a painkiller when a headache comes on, and maybe take a day off work if their neck pain becomes too severe. These treatments ease the discomfort, but as soon normal activity is resumed, the problems return.
Physiotherapists at Apollo Hospitals explain that one of the best things you can do to beat the side-effects of working at a desk is to introduce some movement to your day. The good idea is to take 5 minutes or so every hour and pamper your body with some simple, but effective yoga stretches.
To help you get started here is a selection of five beginner yoga poses which will help counteract the typical hunched over the office desk posture that results in back and neck pain. These stretches are reasonably discrete, so you won’t draw unwanted attention to yourself and can be done seated. As a bonus, running through these stretches will give you a natural boost of energy, so that you can return to your work feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Cow Face Arms Pose
Cow face arms pose is an excellent stretch for the arms and shoulders, offering an instant release for those tight muscles and helping to correct your posture. Reach your right hand up and behind your shoulder, while your left hand reaches behind your back to clasp the right hand. If your hands don’t meet, you can use a scarf to make the connection. Hold for five breaths and then reverse your hands to perform the same move on the other side.
Ankle to Knee Pose
The ankle to knee pose targets the hips and helps to ease tightness – it is also perfect for those of you who are prone to sciatic pain. Sitting at the front of your chair, place your left foot flat on the floor. Lift your right leg and rest the ankle over your knee. Gently lean forward to increase the intensity of the stretch, and take five deep breaths before you switch to the other side.
Seated Twist Pose
Including seated twists in your desk yoga routine will help to release your back and shoulder tension, while encouraging better posture. Start by sitting tall with a straight spine, and inhale deeply. As you exhale, twist your body to the right. Take the twist from your abdomen and let your upper body and head follow. Hold the stretch for five breaths, gently return to centre and repeat on the other side.
Seated Cat/Cow Pose
The cat/cow pose is used in yoga to increase spinal flexibility and is an easy way to relieve tension in the neck. Sit in your chair with both feet flat on the floor and a straight, tall spine. On an exhale, round your spine and let your chin come to your chest. On the following inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders onto your back. Flow from one position to the other, following your exhalations and inhalations for five full breaths.
Wrist releases do exactly what the name says – they release the tightness that builds up in the complex structure of the wrists and hands. To do this exercise, hold your right hand up in front of you and flex the wrist towards the floor so that your palm now faces forward. Spread the fingers wide, and then use your other hand to push back gently on the thumb. Hold for two or three breaths, while consciously trying to relax the muscles of your arms. Work in turn through each of the fingers of your right hand, before repeating the process on the left. Complete the release by rolling your wrists a couple of times in each direction.