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10 Back Exercises You Can Do At Your Work Station

February 1, 2018

If you are reading this article, chances are you’re probably suffering from some form of backache or strain. In a recent study done by Singapore General Hospital, the majority of office workers surveyed had complaints of aches, pain and strains from musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Of the 324 respondents surveyed, 73 percent reported experiencing pain in various parts of the body such as the neck, lower back, and shoulders.

These aches and pains are often linked to sitting for long hours each day. Being seated all day causes the muscles in your legs and glutes to weaken, which places your body at higher risk of injury. Additionally, your hips and back suffer when you sit for long periods of time. Your hip flexors may shorten, which causes tightness and discomfort. Prolonged sitting can also cause compression on the discs in your spine, which can lead to premature degeneration and chronic pain.

Besides aches and pains, however, there are other detrimental effects that come with sitting for long hours. According to Dr. Melisa Hon, the owner and principal chiropractor of Asia Chiropractic, “prolonged sitting increases risk of cardiovascular conditions, indigestion, osteoporosis, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), diabetes, and cancer.”

Sounds scary, right?

Not to worry, improving your back health is simple enough and does not have to involve complicated exercise routines or expensive massage therapy. Massage is a wonderful way of relieving muscle tension and reducing chronic pain, but it needs to be done on a regular basis, which can put a strain on your wallet. In addition, while Yoga and Pilates may offer physical benefits, it can be hard for time-starved corporate folks to find time to participate in these fitness programmes.

Surely, there are easier (and more affordable) ways of keeping your back healthy and pain-free?

Below, Dr. Hon shares 10 simple exercises you could incorporate into your daily routine. Each exercise takes less than 5 minutes but can do wonders for your posture and reduce your risk of MSD.

1. Reaching upper back stretch

Standing or sitting with your arms out in front and interlace your fingers. Push your hands forward as far as possible. Hold 10-20 seconds and breathe slowly.

2. Upper body stretch

Interlace your fingers, turn palms upward, and straighten arms above head. Elongate your arms to stretch through upper sides of your ribcage. Hold for 10-15 seconds and breathe slowly and deeply.

3. Side stretch

Hold your right elbow with left hand. Gently pull your elbow behind your head to feel a stretch in the outer part of your upper arm and back. Hold for 8-10 seconds each side. Breathe slowly.

4. Upper back stretch

This is similar to the side stretch (number 3) but hold for 15-20 seconds. Breathe slowly

5. Shoulder shrugs

Seated or standing, lift your shoulders up towards your ears, squeezing them as hard as you can. Hold for 3-5 seconds and roll them back as you relax downwards. Repeat for 3 reps.

6. Neck sideway stretch

Tilt your head to the right; with your right hand, grab your left hand to the back and gently pull towards right buttock. Hold for 10-12 seconds.  Repeat on other side.

7. Wrist/forearm stretch part 1

Place your hands palm to palm. Move hands downward, keeping palms together and elbows even. Hold for 10 seconds.

8. Wrist /forearm stretch part 2

Place your hands palm to palm. Rotate hands downwards, keeping your elbow on an even keel. Hold for 10 seconds.

9. Lateral arm and back stretch

Lift one arm up as high as possible and drop your opposite arm down towards the floor. Hold for 8-10 seconds. Repeat on other side. Breathe slowly.

10. Back and hip stretch

Bend your left leg over your right leg and look over your left shoulder. Place your right hand on your left thigh and apply a gentle stretch. Hold for 8-10 seconds. Breathe deeply.

As you can see, having a strong back and enjoying a pain-free life just takes a little intentionality and consistent work. Try it!