Easy exercises can prevent problems and allow your body to do the work you ask it to do. You will even feel a boost of energy! You can do these exercises at your desk or anywhere throughout the day. The more often you do them, the better you will feel. You can time your exercises to something you do frequently, like watching a favourite TV program. Instead of sitting on the couch, you can do a few exercises at the same time. This also establishes a regular exercise habit!
Stretching brings nutrients to your muscles and relieves tension. It increases the feeling of well-being and improves flexibility. When possible, take breaks away from the computer and stretch whatever area feels tight. Stretch slowly without bouncing, and gradually increase the stretch to your tolerance. You should not stretch until you feel pain.
Strengthening keeps muscles strong and helps to prevent any future problems. After exercising, you should pay close attention to how your body feels, and ask your physiotherapist to explain anything you don't understand. Awareness of your body's pain signals can help prevent injury as well as help recover from it.
Exercising target areas
The following is a suggested list of helpful exercises targeting several areas of the body. Modify each exercise to your comfort level and discontinue any exercise that makes you feel worse. These exercises are most effective when done multiple times throughout the day. They make excellent stretch breaks at work.
- neck rotation: Sit or stand up straight. Turn your head from side to side without moving your shoulders or upper back. Hold 3 to 5 seconds, repeat 3 to 5 times each side.
- shoulder rolls: Move your shoulders up and backward in a circle. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- chin tucks: Sit up tall and look straight ahead. Slowly tuck your chin in towards you (like making a double chin). Hold 5 to 10 seconds, then relax your chin.
- shoulder blade pinch:With your arms by your side, bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Squeeze your shoulder blades together downward and backward. Do not let your low back arch or your head move forward. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, repeat 5 to 10 times.
- pectoral (chest) stretch: Place one forearm against a wall or door. The elbow should be level with the shoulder. Turn your body away from your arm. You should feel a stretch at the front of your shoulder and into the chest. Hold 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat 1 to 2 times each side.
Lower back and legs
- abdominals: Sit with your buttocks against the back of a chair and tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling them toward your spine (flatten them and avoid pushing them outward). Keep your chest relaxed and continue to breathe normally while you hold the abdominals tight for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- hamstring stretch: Sit with your buttocks against the back of the chair, straighten your knee and feel the stretch in the back of your leg. To increase the stretch, lift your toes toward you. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat 1 to 2 times each leg.
- low back extension: Stand up with your feet apart and place your palms on your lower back. Gently bend backwards, letting your back arch a comfortable amount. Pause 2 to 3 seconds, repeat 1 to 3 times.
Arms and hands
- wrist extensor stretch: Hold your arm straight in front of you, palm down, and bend your wrist down. With your other hand over the knuckles, gently pull the hand down until you feel a stretch in the top of the wrist and forearm. To increase the stretch, make a relaxed fist. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, repeat 2 to 3 times each side.
- wrist flexor stretch: Hold your arm straight out in front of you, palm up, and bend your wrist back with fingers pointing down. With your other hand, gently pull the fingers back to increase the stretch. Hold 5 to 10 seconds, repeat 2 to3 times.
- clock diagonals: Visualize a clock. Move your eyes in a straight line, beginning from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock, then 1 o'clock to 7 o'clock and so on until you have completed a circle. Keep your head still and move your eyes slowly to avoid straining them.
Finally, it is important to find some time to do at least 150 minutes (in intervals of 10 minutes or more) of aerobic exercise per week at moderate to vigorous intensities. Make it fun! Examples of moderate intensity activities include brisk walking or bike riding, and vigorous intensity activities include cross-country skiing or swimming. You should also include some muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 2 days per week to ensure good health. Getting the heart rate up improves circulation and gets important nutrients to all the different parts of your body. This promotes stress reduction, body weight regulation, and quality sleep. You will also be helping your body keep fit for life!
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team.