Whether you work in an office or outdoors, your muscles can become tired, stiff, and sore after a long day. Daily wear and tear from fatigue combined with back, neck, and shoulder pain can drastically reduce productivity and job satisfaction.
Fortunately, you’re not the only one looking for a way to combat these nagging aches and pains. One of the easiest, quickest ways to avoid pain and stiffness from a long day at work is to take multiple breaks throughout the day to stretch.
Even though it’s often associated with starting or wrapping up a workout, stretching can also be a beneficial habit to add to your daily routine. It can reduce the risk of soft tissue injuries, boost your energy levels, and even improve your body’s range of motion.
Sitting or standing for long periods of time can wear down your spine. Gravity starts to pull you down and poor postural habits may start to creep in. You may find yourself slowly hunching forward or shifting your weight from one leg to the other. Taking a minute or two to stretch can help improve your posture, balance your weight, and realign your spine.
If you’ve been immobile for hours, your body is most likely going to be stiff and sore when you get up. Ideally, our bodies would only be immobile at night, when we’re asleep, and for short periods of time during the day. In the modern workplace, however, many people are going up to 8 hours with very minimal movement. Aside from the occasional break to eat or use the bathroom, our bodies have become sedentary.
This sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our health, causing problems with muscle weakness, loss of flexibility, and reduced blood circulation. It’s important to adapt to this new work style by taking frequent breaks to get up, move around, and stretch.
Taking a break from sitting, for at least a few minutes every hour, can help counteract these effects. Taking a few minutes to stretch every so often can also help increase muscle and joint elasticity, thus improving the body’s overall range of motion.
While stretching provides many benefits, sometimes it can be done incorrectly, leaving you in more pain than before.
Below are four rules you should follow for a safe, relaxing stretch.
- Stretch warm muscles. Stretching a “cold” muscle, or a muscle that hasn’t moved in a while, isn’t recommended. If you need to stretch at work, try walking around the office a bit to reduce any lingering muscle stiffness. A short walk helps your muscles warm up and prepare for movement.
- Keep it steady. Regardless of what muscles you’re stretching, you want to focus on proper form. Keep your movements slow and smooth, while breathing steadily. Moving too abruptly or without regard to form can potentially strain the muscles and cause an injury.
- Avoid painful movements. If you feel pain, numbness, tingling, or any difficulties performing a stretch, you’re pushing yourself too far. If you’re struggling with a certain movement, modify it slightly until you can perform the stretch without pain.
- Everything in moderation. Stretching is about improving muscle flexibility and increasing circulation. You won’t benefit from the stretch by spending a minimal amount of time on it. On the flip side, stretching too often or holding a stretch for too long can overextend the muscles and cause discomfort.
Airrosti Stops Pain Fast
While stretching throughout the workday is good preventative care, sometimes aches and pains require a more targeted approach.
At Airrosti, our providers diagnose and treat pain at the source with specific, hands-on manual therapy combined with exercises to increase strength and mobility. This targeted treatment, combined with at-home active care, leads to efficient, long-term injury resolution. If pain or an injury is keeping you from doing what you love, stop by your nearest Airrosti provider and get back to living pain free.
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