PT on the Net Research

Office Workout


As technology becomes greater, our fitness levels become weaker. Today, most of our labor force is working in front of a computer, which can lead to success for your career but problems with your body. Working in an office can be very stressful and can keep you away from the gym. This can and will lead to even bigger problems down the road. Some of the biggest problems that occur when sitting in a desk day in and day out can take time to manifest, but when it happens, it can make everyday life very uncomfortable. Two of the biggest problems that will occur due to prolonged sitting and poor posture are neck pain and tension headaches.

Neck Pain

“Most people will have a minor neck problem at one time or another. Our body movements usually do not cause problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse or injury. Neck problems and injuries most commonly occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, projects around the home OR POOR POSTURE,” according to Dr. William M. Green.

Neck pain may feel like a kink, stiffness or severe pain. Pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back or arms, and it can cause headaches. Neck movement may be limited, usually more to one side than the other. Neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull into the shoulders.

Sitting at your desk everyday for eight hours leaning over with your head forward puts a severe amount of stress on your cervical vertebrae. Every inch your head is over the mid-line (head mid-line is the imagery line from your ear to your shoulder) is eight pounds of pressure on your neck. Over time, this will cause problems, in some cases very dangerous problems. Below is a picture of the spine and how pulling from the cervical spine can cause pain all the way down the lumbar spine.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are one of the most frequent types of headaches. They can be triggered by stress, anxiety, depression, hunger, anger, fatigue, overexertion, poor posture and muscle strain. Tension headaches may come on suddenly or gradually. Prolonged sitting, poor posture or eyestrain can also trigger tension headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common problem associated with working at a desk for long periods of time.

As society becomes more dependent on technology, our employees will spend more time in chairs and less time in the gym. These problems will just continue to get worse, not to mention the increase in obesity and everything that comes with it. In society today, it’s hard enough to find time to relax let alone find time to workout, so the only thing we can do is bring the gym to your workplace by using equipment around the office.

Working the correct muscles will help these issues, but we must also perform our daily activates correctly as well. Most people sit leaning forward at their desk with their shoulders rolled forward, causing a rounding of the thoracic-lumbar spine. The issues can be addressed by just sitting correctly at your desk and strengthening and stretching the correct muscles. Pictured below is the incorrect (left) and correct (right) way to sit at your desk, followed by a workout all office employees can do on a daily basis to correct poor posture.  

Office Workout

Push Ups on a Chair

Single Leg (Split) Squats

Scap Activation

Shoulder Push Press

Triceps Push Ups

Isometric Towel Curls

Abdominal Leg Lifts

Office Stretches

Each stretch needs to be performed once every two hours and held for 30 seconds each (should be completed after every workout).

Chest

Shoulder (Standing)

Shoulder (Seated)

Legs 1

Leg 2

Calves

Wrist/Forearm

This workout will not make you the next Mr. Universe, but it will keep you active and help you combat the symptoms associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time (i.e., poor posture!). Performing the above exercises and stretches will keep your spine in alignment and prevent some of the dreaded side effects of having an office job, such as tension headaches, eye strain and neck pain, therefore making you a more productive and happy employee.

References:

  1. http://www.webmb.com/neck-pain; Primary Medical Reviewer: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer: Robert B. Keller, MD – Orthopedics: WebMD WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise