Most people who work from home know that they spend a good portion of their day sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer screen. All of this prolonged sitting can have many negative side effects on your well-being. Some of these problems are muscle pain and stiffness in your back, legs, and hips. Eye strain is another issue that can occur from staring at your computer screen all day long. Here are a few simple stretches and exercise tips that should be performed multiple times a day to ensure that you can stay healthy throughout your work-at-home journey.
Upper Body Exercises
When you sit at a computer desk all day long there is an adder strain being placed on your neck and shoulders. This can lead many people to have tension in their neck and can even lead to chronic headaches. Spending a few minutes a day stretching out these two areas can ease this discomfort. To get started, make sure you have the proper chair and desk and are using correct posture. Slouching or sitting at your couch or in bed on a laptop all day are going to cause those symptoms to flare. Instead, sit with your neck lined up with your spine and relax your shoulders. Placing your hands on your knees, drop your chin into your chest, allowing the back of your neck to stretch. After a few moments, return your neck to center and then proceed to tilt your head back, looking up at the ceiling. Finish this stretch off by dropping your head to your left shoulder and then again to your right shoulder, pausing for a few seconds in between.
Shoulder stretches should be performed next after neck stretches. Having tense, tight shoulders can lead to issues with the muscles and tendons that connect your shoulders to your arms. Keeping these muscles loose and lubricated will decrease your chances of having problems further down the road. The exercise that I perform is called Shoulder Shrugs. These are done by pulling the shoulders up towards your ears and then holding them there for a few seconds at a time. Another exercise is done by keeping your fingers behind your head and pulling the shoulder blades together. This can really help ease the tightness in your upper back. Performing these simple moves will help alleviate any tension or stiffness that is forming in the upper regions of your body.
Lower Body Exercises
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause you to develop shortened and tight hamstrings and hip flexors, which can lead to an increased risk of injury. Stretching this muscle group can ease stress and fatigue, along with increasing circulation to your brain allowing any symptoms of headaches to be relieved. There are two exercises that I perform for this muscle group. The first one is a Spinal Twist. To perform this exercise, lie on your back and gently pull both knees toward your chest. If you can’t get them that far, it’s okay, just pull them as high as you can. Next, drop your knees to one side with your hands spread out next to you in a “T” shape. Turn your head in the same direction as your knees and relax for twenty seconds. Pull your knees back to the starting position and then repeat on the opposite side.
The next exercise that I perform is for stretching out those hamstrings. Take one knee in your hand, while you are sitting down and pull that knee into your chest. Hold this stretch for twenty seconds and then switch sides. Another great stretch for your hamstrings and lower back is to stand up placing your hands on your hips and bend forward with your back straight and knees bent. Keep bending forward till your hands can touch the floor. Hold this for twenty seconds and then round your back up slowly, returning to the standing position.
Hands, Arms, and Eye Exercises
The last area I concentrate on is my arms, hands, and eye regions. These are the areas that can get fatigued from typing, writing, or other repetitive motions that your work might require. Lacing your fingers together and extending your arms out in front of you and over your head for ten seconds can really help ease stiffness and fatigue in your hands and arms. I also like to separate and straighten my fingers to help loosen them up.
Next, to give your eyes some relief, there are three exercises that I like to perform. The first is done by closing your eyes and rolling your eyes around in a circle. This really helps to lubricate the eyes and eases any strain on the eye muscle. Next, I like to just take a moment and look away from the screen and blink. Now I know this sounds like something that you think are doing all the time anyway, but you would be surprised at how many people actually forget to blink while they are looking at screens. This is something that I have had to retrain my eyes to do, so every four seconds I make myself blink. This really keeps my eyes lubricated and relieves any dry, scratchiness that I may have been experiencing. The last eye exercise I perform is done by glancing around. To do this, start by closing your eyes and glance as far away as you can. Hold this position for only a moment and then look down with your eyes still closed. Repeat this process a few times and then open your eyes. Let your eyes refocus for a few moments and then close your eyes again. This time instead of looking forward, look from right to left. Repeat this process a few more times. By doing these simple eye exercises you greatly reduce your risk of headaches, eye strain, and can even eliminate some unnecessary work errors.
Taking the time out of your busy work day to perform these simple exercises can have a positive effect on your overall health and work performance. Taking these regular breaks to stretch and move around can help ease any of these common work related symptoms, so there is no reason to not give them a try and see how much better you will feel in the end.