Most of us should feel refreshed ready to crack on with the new year, after a Christmas break. This might be the case mentally.. but physically we still see many people struggling with neck and back pain, and tension headaches. These three simple things you can do today and everyday at work.
1) Correct your Breathing
For many relaxation means grabbing a glass of wine and collapsing on the sofa at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress. To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. Dr. Herbert Benson, trustee of the American Institute of Stress states we need to actually encourage the body to switch off. The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension). This can be achieved by resetting your breathing, which can be performed at work to energise the body and decrease muscle tension.
TRY THIS – Cross your arms, lift up your chest. Breathe in deeply for 6 seconds aiming to move you arms out and up with your rib cage, breathe out slowly. Repeat x 3
2) Position your Screen
Having the screen at eye level is very important, it reduces the amount of time our head is forward and down. Your head weighs around six kilos, so the further forward it is the more strain is placed on the vertebrae in the upper spine. This leads to more muscle activity around that area, making these small muscles work harder giving that aching feeling. This can lead to tension type headaches and upper back pain.
TRY THIS – When you are sitting upright and tall, check the middle of the screen is straight in front of you just passed arm distance away. If you use a laptop, raise it up on a laptop stand where possible.
3) Rotate your Spine
Our body was designed to rotate and move, but sitting for prolonged periods in a flexed position makes the muscles each side of the spine tighten and shorten. Having tighter muscles in this area makes twisting much harder. The mid part of the back (thoracic region) needs regular rotation to stay loose and mobile, so if you struggle to twist you will develop pain and stiffness on the middle of your back.
TRY THIS –Sitting upright put one foot onto the opposite knee, take hold of the raised knee and turn round behind you slowly as far as possible. Move the arm back and follow with your head. Repeat x 3 on each side.
Looking after the body at work is possible and it can fit into a busy working day. Having times of lower productivity and working with discomfort should not become normal. With just a few simple steps we can all use laptops, screens and tablets without getting the muscle problems usually associated with this kind of work.
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