Deskercises: tone up while you work

Whether you work from home or an office, staying still for hours on end can wreak havoc with your muscles, posture and stress levels. You can find yourself starting the day upright in your chair, with the best intentions to keep your back straight, but come lunchtime you are slumped over your screen, putting tension into your neck and unnecessary strain on your spine. The good news is that there are some very simple exercises that can help, and they are subtle enough to do right at your desk.

Here are some tips for staying limber in the workplace. They should all be done with your feet flat on floor. For the best results, do ten repetitions three times a day. Our top tip would be to set a reminder on your email or smartphone, prompting you to do a quick set at three separate points during your working day.

1. Neck stretches

Gently look over your right shoulder, then dip your nose down towards the floor; you will feel a stretch along the opposite side of your neck. Bring your head back to the middle and then repeat on the left side. Keep your hands at on your knees and your shoulders relaxed – don’t allow them to rise up.

Only turn your head as much as feels comfortable, taking care not to overstretch your neck, keeping the movements gentle and fluid, loosening and relaxing your muscles.

2. Upper body rotations

To release tension across your upper back and shoulders, cross your arms over your chest, touching your left hand to your right shoulder, and vice versa. Then gently rotate from your waist, keeping your arms and chest still, twisting from side to side. For a stronger, deeper stretch, move your hands further across your shoulders.

3. Gentle spine curves

Firstly let your back drop and be rounded, so your lower back makes more contact with your chair. Then use your back muscles to sit up tall and arch your back away from your chair.

With each repetition, see if you can make longer movements with your pelvic tilts.

4. Chin tucks

Whilst seated, gently push your chin forwards on the horizontal and then tuck in, as if making a double chin. This will mobilise the joints of your neck, helping to maintain good mobility.

Worried about your eyesight?

Health and Safety Regulations state that if you are habitually using DSE (Display Screen Equipment), your employer is entitled to provide eye tests on request. The 1992 Regulations also state employers need to analyse workstations to assess and reduce risks, ensure workstations meet specified minimum requirements, plan work activities to include breaks or changes of activity, provide special spectacles if needed and provide information and training.

With thanks to our own workplace physio, Elizabeth Cordle MCSP, who conducts ergonomic management services in the workplace.