By and large, we’re no longer spending our days working in factories or plowing the land for future farming. On the whole, our society has transitioned to different modes of work with new technologies, but just because we’re not using heavy machinery or mining the countryside doesn’t mean we’re free from risks of our own. Believe it or not, office work brings its own set of problems and potential health risks.
In 2011, The New York Times reported that jobs requiring moderate physical activity plummeted from 50 percent of the labor market in 1960 to just 20 percent today. The remaining 80 percent of jobs are largely sedentary or require minimal activity. This shift can largely be credited to rapid technological changes in the workplace, allowing people to work more efficiently and globally. Though fantastic in its own right, these changes bring about a whole new host of health problems that haven’t been encountered before.
The Rise of Musculoskeletal Disorders
With the rise of computers and smartphones, there’s almost been a correlating rise in the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders amongst young adults entering the workforce. In 2016, the social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap found that people 18- to 36-years-old spend an average of 17.8 hours a day on different types of media. The sheer number of hours typically spent in a sedentary position, or with little movement, wreaks havoc on the bodies’ musculoskeletal system, leading to early back problems, neck pains, shoulder tension and general fatigue. While beneficial in a number of ways, the advent of these technologies has led to the antithesis of our biological adaptations.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Audrey Bergouignan, a human physiologist at the University of Colorado at Denver, explained that, “From an evolutionary point of view, we are built to be active. Your grandparents were not going to the fitness center. They were active all day.”
Seeing the severity of desk stress, Massage Heights has curated select stretches that will help you beat back office injuries.
4 Stretches To Combat Desk Malaise
1. The Seated Spinal Twist- Let’s face it, you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, and that’s okay but you should use the opportunity to employ your chair in your new health habits. At your desk, sit in your chair sideways so your shoulders and back are perpendicular to the back of the chair. Sitting up straight with your feet on the ground, place your hands on the back of the chair and twist as you pull yourself toward the chair. Switch sides and repeat the motion for approximately 8-10 breaths per side. This will allow you a break from the screen and stretch out your spine,
2. Wings of an Eagle- Office work and sitting at a computer all day can stress your shoulders and upper back. Luckily, we’ve got just the remedy to your malady. As you’re sitting at your desk, stretch your arms out in front of you so that they’re parallel with your shoulders and shoulder-distance apart. Bend your left arm upward and move the right arm under it. Then, wrap your right arm around the left until you can grasp the outer edge of your left arm or clasp your palms together. When you have this grasp, lift your elbows away toward the roof and pull your clasped hands away from your face. While doing this, turn your head side-to-side. Then reverse arms and repeat for 8-10 breaths per position. The muscles under your shoulder blades, your upper back,
3. Solar Plexus Expansion- Office work and computer-oriented jobs tend to require that we sit at out desk for extended periods of time. While we typically want to take a load off, the extended bouts of sitting can have long-term effects on our muscles. Luckily, we’ve got just the stretch to rejuvenate those muscles and combat desk stress. For this stretch, you can stay seated at your desk. Interlace your fingers and place your arms on the top of your chair’s back. Then drop your chin to your chest and hold the position for 8-10 breaths as well. It’s just as simple as that and your chest, shoulders and neck will undoubtedly sing your praises for giving them a break.
4. Neck Rotation- After spending a day at your desk, you'll notice tension in your neck and shoulders. It’s natural and unfortunately uncomfortable. Even Atlas had some strains and pains from holding the sky, and it’s only natural you would too. Fortunately, we have just the remedy. Sitting up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, bring your chin toward your chest and rotate your right ear toward your right shoulder. For an added bonus you can put your left hand on your right shoulder and put your right hand just above your left ear with a gentle amount of pressure. Carry this stretch out for 8-10 breaths and then switch sides to share the benefits.
While they seem simple, these easy stretches will benefit your body more than you know on a daily basis. With the ever-increasing time we spend at our desk and computers the aches and pains are undoubtedly going to continue to arise. Though we don’t have to fall victim to the everyday irritations. With these simple stretches and additional activities, like massage therapy, your pains will be a problem of the past and your co-workers will be begging you for your secret solutions.