Whether in an office or at home, many of us spend the majority of our workday at a desk. Sitting for prolonged periods of time may lead to an array of health issues, such as neck, back, and hip pain. Furthermore, a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, colon cancer, hypertension, depression, and anxiety. However, doing a few simple desk exercises throughout the day may help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and increase productivity.
To help you stay in optimal physical shape and enjoy a pain-free workday, we’ve compiled a list of five exercises you can do at your work desk. Remember, when starting any new exercise routine, it is essential to talk with your doctor first to ensure it is safe and appropriate for you.
First, let’s identify some root causes of pain associated with sitting at an office desk.
4 Common Causes of Hip, Back, and Neck Pain at Work
When trying to avoid hip, back, or neck pain at work, it is crucial to understand their causes. Being aware of these common causes and taking preventative measures is key to avoiding pain and discomfort.
1. Poor Posture
As the workday progresses, it is easy to start slouching or hunching over at your work desk. This may lead to added stress on the neck and back muscles. Over time, poor posture may cause scoliosis, chronic headaches, and other health issues. Therefore, it is vital to sit up straight and keep your back, neck, and hips aligned to maintain good posture. If you have trouble sitting up straight, invest in an ergonomic chair that supports your spine, or use a lumbar cushion for added support.
2. Lack of Movement
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can have a negative effect on your health, especially when combined with poor posture. To avoid this, take regular breaks to stand and move around for a few minutes each hour. Something as simple as having a standing work desk or doing a few stretches throughout the day may make a world of difference to your health. On your lunch break, try going outside and walking for at least 15 minutes to help relieve tension and reduce your risk of injury.
3. Poor Ergonomics
Workplace ergonomics focuses on reorganizing office furniture and equipment to best fit your body and reduce the risk of injury. For an optimal workstation, it is imperative to adjust your chair and work desk height, select a supportive chair, and position your monitor at eye level.
Moreover, a padded mouse pad and wrist rest can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomics is at the epicenter of creating a healthy and safe workspace. If you are noticing recurring pain, talk to your employer about ways to adjust your workstation.
4. Stress and Tension
Stress and tension at work may cause your muscles to tense up, leading to pain and discomfort in the hip, back, and neck. When you’re under stress, the body responds by releasing stress hormones that cause the muscles to tense up. This may increase pressure on the neck, back, and hips, causing pain and discomfort.
Additionally, stress and tension may cause you to adopt a poor posture. By managing tension and work-related stress, you can reduce your pain and make sitting up straight throughout the day easier. Things like taking vacation days, practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, and getting enough sleep can help reduce stress levels.
5 Exercises to Do at Your Work Desk
In addition to taking frequent breaks and going for a walk, here are five exercises you can do at your work desk to help prevent and relieve hip, back, and neck pain:
1. Neck Stretches
Neck stretches may relieve tension, reduce pain, improve posture, enhance flexibility, boost circulation, prevent headaches, and promote relaxation. Regular neck stretching can improve the neck’s range of motion and reduce the risk of injury. By improving blood flow to the neck and head, neck stretches also help reduce stress and promote well-being. To properly conduct a neck stretch:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms hanging loosely at your sides, or sit up straight in your desk chair.
- Tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear towards your right shoulder.
- Hold for 10-15 seconds, then release.
- Repeat on the other side, tilting your head to the left.
- Repeat this stretch 2-3 times on each side.
For a deeper stretch, you can gently pull your head towards your shoulder using your opposite hand while you hold the stretch. Remember to take deep breaths while you hold the stretch and avoid jerking movements.
2. Shoulder Rolls
Shoulder rolls relieve tension and improve posture for those who spend long hours at a work desk or computer. They also work to improve circulation, release stress, prevent headaches, and promote relaxation. Incorporating shoulder rolls into your daily routine may improve overall health and wellness, counteracting the adverse effects of prolonged sitting. To do a shoulder roll:
- Start by sitting or standing with your arms relaxed at your sides or resting on your shoulders.
- Begin by rolling your shoulders backward in a circular motion
- Repeat the circle forwards and backward 5-10 times
- Repeat the exercise 2-3 times
3. Desk Push-ups
This strengthening exercise helps to maintain strong arms, shoulder, and chest muscles. Regularly doing desk push-ups can improve posture and reduce muscle tension. To do this exercise:
- Stand facing your work desk or any sturdy surface that is about hip height
- Place your hands on the edge of the desk, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
- Step back so your feet are hip-width apart and your body is in a straight line
- Lower your body towards the desk by bending your elbows
- Push back up to the starting position, straightening your arms
- Repeat 10-15 times, rest, and repeat for 2-3 sets
4. Tricep Dips
Tricep dips are great for strengthening the back of your arms and improving overall posture. They will help you stand tall, ultimately reducing neck, shoulder, and upper back pain. To do a tricep dip:
- Find a sturdy surface such as a work desk or chair
- Sit on the edge of the surface with your hands gripping the edge and your fingers pointing toward your body
- Slide your body off the surface, supporting yourself with your arms
- Lower your body by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your sides
- Push yourself back up to the starting position, straightening your arms
- Repeat 10-15 times, rest, and repeat for 2-3 sets
You can modify the exercise by bending your knees or using a higher surface. Tricep dips are a great way to target the triceps and tone the arms, especially when you don’t have access to weights.
5. Chair Twists
This exercise is an easy way to improve core strength and flexibility. Regularly doing chair twists can help to reduce back pain and provide relief from tightness and discomfort. Chair twists are also a great way to relieve hip and waist tension. To do a chair twist:
- Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor
- Place your hands on your knees or on the armrests
- Twist your torso to the right, reaching your right hand towards the back of the chair
- Hold for a few seconds, then return to the center
- Repeat the twist to the left
- Repeat 10-15 times on each side, rest, and repeat for 2-3 sets
Find Relief from Desk-related Pain at Alliance Orthopedics
Are you tired of dealing with desk-related pain and discomfort? At Alliance Orthopedics, our team is dedicated to helping you feel your best every day. We offer a comprehensive approach to wellness with physical therapy, chiropractic care, and pain management options. With our customized treatment plans, you can find relief from even the toughest work-related pains and injuries. Book an appointment today and start your journey to a pain-free work life.