What helps improve flexibility, increase range of motion and decrease injury? Stretching! It feels good, and it has a lot of benefits, including improved circulation, better posture, enhanced coordination and stress relief.
The vast majority of Americans (80 percent) work at jobs that require little to no physical activity, which means they could see big benefits from stretching in the workplace.
Reach for wellness with these five workplace stretches
Sitting all day at a desk, on an airplane or in a car can wreak havoc on employees’ backs, hips, necks and shoulders. These quick and easy workplace stretches can be done while seated or standing at a desk.
- Forward curl: Need to give the upper body a good stretch? While seated, curl the neck, upper back and lower back forward. Keep curling in, while reaching for the ground, until the chest meets the legs. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
- Forward fold: While seated, plant feet firmly on the floor, slightly wider than the hips. Gently lean forward, relaxing the back and neck, folding at the torso. Hold this position and breathe deeply. Feel this stretch throughout the back, hips and hamstrings.
- Big reach: Sit up tall, take a deep breath and reach toward the ceiling with palms facing out. Then exhale, opening the arms wide and bringing the elbows down to armpit level. This stretches the abdomen, back and chest.
- Jog in place: Beat the midday slump with a midday march. Allow employees to stand up and march or jog in place. Even just a few short minutes of exercise can increase blood flow, respiration and energy levels.
- Leg extensions: Leg extensions energize tired glutes, knees and legs. While seated, lift each leg straight out in front of the body and flex and point the toes five times. Do five repetitions to reinvigorate the lower body.
When beginning a stretching regimen, as with all exercise programs, encourage employees to discuss their health with a physician. Remind them to start slow and never stretch to the point of pain. Provide helpful tips, such as stretching keyboard guides or note paper mouse pads imprinted with stretching instructions. Banners and retractable signs imprinted with visual directions may also remind employees to stretch. Make regular announcements urging workers to get up and move or give them a logo’d, magnetic timer as a reminder to stretch throughout the day.
The benefits of stretching at work reach far beyond the physical ones. Battle fatigue, stress and the midday slumps with these simple workplace practices.