Work-Friendly Stretches for Easing Aches During Your Shift

Studies have shown that  ⅓ of our lives are spent at work! That’s a lot of time spent performing tasks that often add new aches and strains to our physical selves. Whether you’re on your feet for 12 hours during an overnight shift, or taking time to catch up on administrative tasks at your desk station, work can feel quite physically demanding. These workdays often take a toll on our muscles, joints, and overall energy. Stretching at work might seem out of place at first, but can be beneficial.


In this blog, we’ll run through some common physical aches experienced by healthcare workers while on the job, and accompanying workplace stretches that you can try to alleviate discomfort and boost your overall energy. 

Workplace Stretches for Common Aches and Pains

Neck Pain

One of the most common workplace aches is a stiff neck, or neck pain, as a result from overexertion. Try one of these neck stretches at work to loosen up those pesky muscles, ditch the pain, and increase your overall flexibility. 

Neck Stretch for Work Pain
  • Tilting Forward and Backward, Then Side to Side

  • This can be done while seated or standing, and offers a deep stretch for your neck muscles that are often fixed in position for much of the day. Take this slow for maximum results.

    Steps:

    •  With a straight back and a forward facing posture, slowly lower your chin as far down as you can, until your chin reaches your chest. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
    •  Next pick your head up, slowly raising until the back of your head reaches as close to your back as possible. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat this process several times.
    • For side tilting, with a straight back attempt to drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Stop when you feel the stretch, and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat this process on the left side. 

    Lower Back Pain

    Lower back pain is a common ailment felt by healthcare workers who spend their days on their feet, or seated at a desk. Active healthcare professions, like nursing, require plenty of lifting, pulling, and twisting that can lead to acute lower back pain while on the job. However, sitting in an uncomfortable chair or slouching at a desk station can just as easily cause chronic lower back pain, which could make your work day that much more challenging. Looking to incorporate lower back stretches at work? We’ll run through one of our favorite lower back stretches you can do at work that only requires a sturdy chair to complete. Looking for the cause of your back pain? Head over to our blog that runs through the top 3 causes of back pain and how you can fix it!
    Hip Stretch Lower Back Pain
  • Seated Cross Leg Stretch

  • This stretch is great for opening up the hip flexor muscles, which are often the cause for chronic lower back pain

    Steps:

    • While sitting upright in a sturdy chair(not one with wheels), lift one foot and bring it to rest on the opposite knee.
    • Lean forward gently until you feel the stretch. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.
    • Repeat the process using the opposite leg. 

    Shoulder Pain

    Often experienced after overuse or improper use of the shoulder muscle–shoulder pain and tightness can retroactively cause neck and back pain as a result. Often extremely uncomfortable, and hindering upper body movement– regularly stretching the shoulder muscles while on the job can help to keep the joint warm, and ready for exertion when needed.
    Shoulder Stretch
  • Across the Chest Stretch

  • A highly popularized shoulder stretch that requires little space and no equipment. This quick and easy stretch for shoulder pain can be done at work, at home, or on the train home. Incorporate this regularly into your daily schedule for added shoulder pain relief. 


    Steps: 

    • While standing, bring your arm across your chest, placing it in the crease of your other arm, and squeeze in position. 
    • You should feel a deep stretch in your shoulder muscles. Hold for 15 seconds, then repeat using the opposite arm. 
    • Perform these sets throughout your workday for continued wellness and pain alleviation. 

    Ankle Stiffness and Pain

    Ankle stiffness and pain can cause all sorts of problems for healthcare professionals, especially those whose positions have them on their feet for long periods of time. Taking proper care of your ankle health and mobility can have positive effects on your overall work performance and stamina, especially during those lengthy shifts.  Let’s run through some stretches for ankle pain that can ease up ankle stiffness and keep you light on your feet.
    Ankle Stretch for Stiff Ankles
  • Ankle Circles

  • This movement is simple and easy to do while standing with support, or while sitting at a desk space. When done consistently, it can stretch out those tight ankle muscles, boost circulation to your foot, and increase overall mobility while on your feet. 


    Steps:

    • To achieve ankle circles, simply draw large circles with your big toe, while keeping your ankle in place– starting with the left direction then moving into the right.
    • To spice things up, instead of drawing circles, attempt to write the alphabet from start to finish. This can help to open up your ankle flexibility and strength. 

    Knee Pain

    Knee pain is common amongst healthcare workers, especially in roles where significant time is spent on foot or walking throughout the day. Knee pain can be particularly uncomfortable, and cause a domino effect of issues throughout the hips, back, and feet. Let’s run through one of our favorite work-appropriate stretches for knee pain.
    Knee Stretch
  • Standing Quadriceps Stretch

  • The quadricep muscle is a common cause of knee pain, as the quads help direct and mediate force through the knee joint. This popular and easy to perform knee stretch can help to loosen the quad muscles, and keep the knee joint healthy and pain-free. 


    Steps:

    • While standing in proximity to a wall or chair, stand on one foot. With your free hand, hold the ankle of the leg that is lifted off of the ground.
    • Pull the lifted heel towards your bottom until you feel the stretch of your quad muscles. Hold for 30 seconds.
    • Repeat on the opposite side. Use this stretch throughout the day to keep your quads loose, and circulation flowing throughout your legs.

     

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