Sitting at our desks all day long can result in all sorts of aches, pains and strains, so it’s vital we take time out of our busy work schedules to look after our bodies. Unfortunately, muscle pains and workplace injuries are all too common for office workers, and they can significantly impact people’s health and focus.
For employers, there are also costs associated with treating injuries, from paying extended sick leave to treating muscular issues. Over time, these problems can add up for any business. So, how do organisations prevent injuries and ensure their staff remain in tip-top shape?
Office exercises are one way of mitigating injury risks. Pulls and strains can often be avoided with some simple desk workouts and office stretching.
An ergonomic workstation is vital. Ergonomic desk chairs and workplace equipment can help with posture and prevent nasty injuries from occurring.
Taking regular breaks from work to exercise and stretch is also key. Everyone in the office, no matter how busy they are, should take time to take care of their bodies.
Here are some tips, stretches, and light desk workouts that can help you perfect your workplace posture and prevent injuries from happening:
Top tips for healthy wrists
Wrist pain can be avoided with simple ergonomic adjustments, according to Tauranga, New Zealand-based osteopath and ergonomist Andrew Wilson.
Here are Andrew’s top tips for healthy wrists:
- Your keyboard and mouse should sit directly in front of you.
- Your keyboard should be adjusted according to whether you sit forward slightly or sit back slightly — the tilt of the keyboard should face away from you if you sit forward and should be tilted forward if you recline, so your wrists remain straight.
- Your elbows should always stay at your side, so you don’t have to strain at all. You can also use cushioned mouse pads.
- Remember to keep moving and change positions regularly.
Andrew also recommends some easy stretches to keep wrists pain-free: The ‘Bear in the honey pot’ stretch demonstrated below can relieve tension from tired and tight wrists.
- Sit upright on your chair.
- Bring the back of your hands in front of you with your elbows stretched fully.
- Imagine you are a bear reaching for honey in a pot and give your fingers a wiggle.
Ergonomic tips for healthy hips
A dodgy hip can cause all sorts of bother, so it’s important to look after them.
According to Wilson, an office desk chair should encourage ‘optimum posture’ for your body type, and your hips should be higher than your knees when sitting down.
Check that your legs slope downwards off the edge of your seat. Having your hips higher than your knees will avoid unnecessary pressure sinking into your hip joints.
To relieve tension in your hips, stop regularly and try the following stretch, called the ‘seated pigeon’, which can relieve tension and stretch the piriformis muscle.
- Sit upright in a chair with both feet on the ground.
- Bring your ankle of one leg up onto your knee of your opposite leg with your foot flexed.
- Apply a gentle pressure with one hand on the top of your bent knee.
- Lean forward until you feel a stretch through your outer hip and buttocks.
- Keep steady full breaths and stay soft through the shoulders.
There are other ways to relieve hip pain. Try changing positions — if you have a standing desk, spend some time sitting down and vice-versa. Take regular breaks and adjust your chair to ensure optimal sitting posture.
Two stretches to negate neck pain
While typing away at your desk, you are likely to slouch into poor posture. Some light office exercises and basic yoga stretches can help.
Tara, a yoga teacher based in Wānaka, New Zealand, runs through two simple stretches for office workers.
Seated Cat and Cow Stretches
- Bend your head forward, reaching your chin towards your chest and round your spine.
- Lift your chest up and arc your spine in the opposite direction.
- Repeat as necessary.
Neck Side Bend
- Side tilt your head to move your right ear toward your right shoulder.
- Pause, breathe, if desired apply gentle pressure to the left side of your head.
- Repeat on the other side.
Yoga stretches for shoulders
Our resident yoga expert also offers some straightforward ways desk workers can stretch their shoulders.
Cow Face Arms
- Bend your right arm behind you, place the back of your hand between your shoulder blades.
- Reach your left arm straight up to the ceiling, bend your left elbow and reach your hands together.
- Pause, breath and repeat on your other side.
- Bring your arms in front of you, elbows at a 90 degree angle.
- Wrap your left elbow below your right and place your hands on your shoulders.
- Stay here if this is enough, or twine your forearms bringing your palms together.
- Pause, breathe and repeat on the opposite side.
Customised ergonomic workplace equipment and adjustable furniture chairs are all essentials.
We’re experts in ergonomics, so here are our top tips to set up your workstation correctly, watch our video How to setup an ergonomic workstation to learn how.
Choose the right chair
An ergonomic office desk chair is the centrepiece of your workstation, and should be designed with comfort and safety in mind.
Buro has a wide range of ergonomic office chairs to ensure workplace wellness. Our chairs are designed for high performance and enable natural movement and great everyday posture.
Sitting in a high-quality ergonomic chair has many benefits, including better focus and energy, increased circulation, ease of movement, reduced muscle and joint pain, and ease of breathing.