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Posture Check and Stretch Break


posture check and stretch break

Posture Check and Stretch Breaks!

Table of Contents

Posture Check – Sitting

Workspace Tips

Posture Check - Standing

Stretches - During the Workday

Shoulder Stretch

Side Neck Stretch

Seated Side Torso Stretch

Seated Torso Twist

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Seated March

Stretches - Work-from-Home

Standing Thigh Stretch/Quadriceps Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Calf Stretch

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

Lower Back Rotational Stretch

Stretches - After a Day of Standing

Split Squats

Standing Half Moon

Tree Pose

Fold Forwards

Plank

Whether we’re sitting or standing for most of the day, how we’re sitting and standing, how often we move throughout the day, and our movement types can affect our well-being. Adjusting our posture and adding in some simple stretches can positively affect how we feel.

Posture Check:

Working with a bad posture for extended periods of time can lead to muscle aches and pains, so starting with a good foundation is important. Here is an example from the Mayo Clinic1:

Workspace Tips:

Adjust Your Chair and Armrests So Your:

  • Feet are flat on the floor
  • Thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Arms are gently resting with shoulders relaxed

Keyboard, Mouse, and Typing

  • Use keyboard shortcuts for less mouse use
  • Your mouse should be within easy reach and on the same surface as your keyboard
  • Adjust mouse sensitivity so only a light touch is needed
  • Try switching the mouse occasionally to the opposite side you normally use
  • When typing - wrists straight, upper arms close to your body, and hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows

Important Items

  • Keep your most used items close by to avoid reaching
  • Stand to reach any items out of comfortable reaching distance

Phone

  • Use a headset or phone speaker rather than holding the phone between your head and neck

Monitor

  • Monitors should be about an arm’s length away
  • The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level
  • For bifocal wearers

Posture Tips When Standing All Day:

Feet

Try to keep your weight on the balls of your feet

Knees

Soften your knees when you’re standing. Locking your knees can close off your circulation and can cause knee and low back pain.

Legs

Stand with your legs slightly apart, with feet about shoulder-width apart, to help increase your base of support and help you use both sides of your body equally.

Core

Tightening your core muscles can take some of the stress of your feet and knees.

Posture Overall

Your head, shoulders, hips, and knees should line up.

Small Movements

  • Shift your weight from side to side occasionally to equalize your weight bearing and activate your core.
  • Bend your knees occasionally throughout the day.
  • To work the muscles on the front and back of your calves a little, rock up on your toes and down on your heels periodically.

Stretches:

Consider your current activity levels and any medical conditions you have before stretching or adding more activity to your day. Taking things slowly and letting your body naturally build up strength and flexibility can be more beneficial for your overall health. The below lists do not cover all stretches you can potentially add to your day - these are just a few suggestions! Always consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about certain stretches or movements and for advice on stretches that could work for you.

For some stretches to do during the office workday:

Shoulder Stretch

To Start: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart

Step-by-Step:

  1. Bring one of your arms across your body and hold it with your opposite arm, either above or below the elbow
  2. Hold for about 30 seconds
  3. Return to starting position and repeat on other side

Side Neck Stretch

To Start: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart

Step-by-Step:

  1. Slowly turn your head to look over your shoulder with back against the chair and shoulders forward
  2. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  3. Return to starting position and repeat on other side

Repetition: 6 – 8 times on each side. Rest before a second set

Seated Side Torso Stretch

To Start: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart

Step-by-Step:

  1. Place hands behind your head with elbows out to the side, cross your arms over your body, or leave your arms at your sides
  2. Bend your body to one side, bending at the waist but keeping your head facing forward. Hold 5 seconds
  3. Return to starting position and repeat on other side

Repetition: 6 – 8 times on each side. Rest before a second set

Seated Torso Twist

To Start: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart

Step-by-Step:

  1. Place hands behind your head with elbows out to the side, cross your arms over your body, or leave your arms at your sides
  2. Slowly twist your body to one side with your head following your body as you turn. Twist from your waist without moving your hips
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  4. Return to starting position and repeat on other side

Repetition: 6 – 8 times on each side. Rest before a second set

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

To Start: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart

Step-by-Step

  1. Pull your shoulder blades together
  2. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax

Repetition: 3 – 5 times twice a day.

Seated March

To Start: Sit tall with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart

Step-by-Step:

  1. Raise one knee as high as you comfortably can
  2. Return to original position and repeat on opposite side

Repetition: 6-8 times per leg (12-16 times total). Rest before a second set

Some additional stretches to try if you’re working from home or for after the workday:

Standing Thigh Stretch/ Quadriceps Stretch

To Start: Stand with your left side to the wall. Place your left hand on the wall for balance, keeping the arm slightly bent.

Step-by-Step:

  1. Raise your right heel directly up. Reach back with your right hand and grab your foot at the hell, ankle, or sock (whichever is most comfortable). You can also grab your pant leg or just raise your foot as high as you can while still feeling comfortable.
  2. Hold for 2-3 seconds while standing tall and looking straight ahead. Your knee should be point toward the floor and your ankle should be in a straight line with your leg, not twisted to the side
  3. Let go of your pant leg/foot and slowly return to starting position. Then repeat.
  4. Complete one set, then turn around and hold the wall with your right hand when working your left leg

Repetition: 6-8 times with each foot. Rest before a second set

Note: Keeping your standing leg slightly bent can help with balance and avoiding injury. Stand tall and avoid leaning over. Talk with your doctor before trying this stretch if you’ve had hip or back surgery.

Hamstring Stretch

To Start: Stand with your left side to the wall. Place your left hand on the wall for balance, keeping the arm slightly bent.

Step-by-Step:

  1. Place your left heel on the floor in front of you. Learn forward from your hip (not your waist!)
  2. Push your hip back and reach toward your toe with your right hand. Your foot can be point up or flat on the floor, whichever is most comfortable. Your shoulders and back should be straight as you reach forward.
  3. Hold for 2-3 seconds
  4. Return to starting position then repeat.
  5. Complete one set and then turn around and work the other leg

Repetition: 6-8 times with each foot. Rest before a second set

Calf Stretch

To Start: Facing a wall, stand slightly farther than arm’s length away, feet shoulder-width apart. Lean against the wall with both hands on the wall.

Step-by-Step

  1. Bend one leg and place the foot on the ground in front of you. The other leg extends behind you with the knee slightly bent. Both feet point straight ahead.
  2. Slowly move your hips forward, keeping your lower back flat. Be sure the hell of your back foot is flat on the floor, and your weight is in your back heel.
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  4. Return to starting position then repeat.
  5. Continue alternating legs.

Repetition: 3-5 times with each leg. Rest before a second set

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

To Start: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor

Step-by-Step

  1. Using both hands, pull one knee up and press it to your chest
  2. Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor
  3. Hold for 5 seconds
  4. Return to starting position then repeat with the opposite leg
  5. Return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time

Repetition: 2-3 times for each stretch. Try to do this once in the morning and once in the evening

Lower Back Rotational Stretch

To Start: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Step-by-Step

  1. Keeping your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side
  2. Hold for 5-10 seconds
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side

Repetition: 2-3 times for each stretch. Try to do this once in the morning and once in the evening

Stretches for after a day of standing

Split Squats

To Start: Stand tall with feet about shoulder width apart.

Step-by-Step

  1. Step forward with one leg and take the other leg back for a long stance.
  2. Slowly drop straight down until your back knee touches the floor. You should feel your front thigh stretching.
  3. Slowly rise up again and repeat with your legs reversed.

Repetition: 2-3 times for each stretch.

Standing Half Moon

To Start: Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart.

Step-by-Step

  1. Raise your arms above your head until the palms touch, keeping your arms straight.
  2. Bend to the right, slowly, until you can feel the muscles on the left side of your body stretching. Try to keep the rest of your body as still as possible and don’t push your hips to the left.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds
  4. Return to standing position then bend to the left and repeat.

Repetition: 1-2 times for each stretch.

Tree Pose

To Start: Stand tall with feet about shoulder-width apart.

Step-by-Step

  1. Raise one leg and place your foot on the inside of your thigh or your calf, whichever is more comfortable.
  2. Raise your arms above your head and bring your palms together, keeping your arms straight. You can hold your arms above your head or bring them down in front of your chest, palms still together.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower your arms and leg.
  5. Repeat while standing on the other leg.

Repetition: 1-2 times for each stretch.

Fold Forwards

To Start: Stand tall with feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.

Step-by-Step

  1. Slowly fold yourselves forwards until you feel a stretch in your back. Don’t push yourself further, just let your arms hang down in front of you. You should feel your back and legs stretching.
  2. Hold for 10-40 seconds.
  3. Slowly roll back up to standing.

Repetition: 1-2 times.

Plank

To Start: Lie on your front.

Step-by-Step

  1. Lift your body off the floor, holding yourself with forearms flat on the floor and only the front of your foot/toes on the floor.
  2. Hold for as long as you can, starting with a 5 second goal.
  3. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor.

Repetition: 1-2 times.

Remember

Don't push yourself when learning a new stretch or getting back into stretching. Take it slow and make sure you're always comfortable in the movement. Consult your doctor with questions and concerns and for advice.

Back to Top

 

1. Mayo Clinic. "Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide." 2. Mayo Clinic "Slide show: A guide to basic stretches. 3. Mayo Clinic. "Slide show: Back exercises in 15 minutes a day."

 


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