The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports statistical evidence that shows the average person (with at least a Bachelor’s Degree, in a full-time job) works 8.5 hours a day and up to 5.53 hours on weekends. That’s a potential total of 53.56 hours of work every single week, 2,785.12 hours a year—not including overtime. After all of that work, your body needs to stretch. Yes, stretch! You might not have expected stretching to be the overall message from such overwhelming statistics but consider how much of the previously mentioned hours you might be spending sitting in a fairly rigid position at your desks or during meetings. If you’re not stretching throughout the day, you’re likely going to feel every single one of those long hours.
Here are three ways stretching at the workplace can help improve your workday:
You don’t need to be able to cross your legs like a pretzel to improve your work. However, Shape.com lists flexibility as a top benefit of stretching during work as, “Sitting in an upright position for hours on end wreaks havoc on the natural curvature of the spine.” Healthline weighs in saying, “Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.” Society Insurance lists carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, muscle strain, and ligament sprains as the most common work-related musculoskeletal disorders—all of which could be either avoided, eliminated, or alleviated by stretching.
2. Good Posture
If your back is chronically sore, it might be due to poor posture. One way to correct poor posture is by regularly stretching. Ergo Plus says, “Stretching realigns soft tissue structures, thus reducing effort to achieve & maintain good posture in activities of daily living.” Good posture affects a range of health factors, including proper digestion, neck, back, and spinal health, and even one’s mood. A study conducted in 2018 also concluded, “improvements in postural awareness are longitudinally associated with reduced pain in patients with spinal/shoulder pain.” The Orthopedic specialists at Barrington say, “While other factors, such as age and genetics, can increase the risk of arthritis, the way you carry your body plays a role in how much stress you put on your joints. Keeping your body aligned in the proper posture can reduce muscle fatigue and strain and help keep your joints healthy and lubricated.” Therefore, stretching at work can improve your posture both in work and in daily life, leading overall to a healthier you.
3. Reducing Fatigue
A study conducted in 2014 estimates that 13% of workplace injuries are due to fatigue. Ergonomic Trends calculates, “almost 107 million out of the 160 million US workers are affected by occupational fatigue” and The National Safety Council reports “More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts or irregular shifts.” Stretching during work helps to alleviate fatigue. That’s because stretching increases blood flow throughout the body, thereby “increasing blood supply and nutrients to your muscles.” Stretching also, “decreases tightness and resistance in tendons and muscles.” A simple stretch routine could be all you need to help you to reduce fatigue over time.
If you’re looking to benefit from the impact stretching has on your body but don’t know which stretches to do, take a look at the following guides to help you get started. Very Well Fit suggests setting an alarm on your phone to get up and stretch every 45-55 minutes, holding each stretch for at least 15 seconds. Remember to go slow and always listen to your body. You spend a lot of time at work, let some of that time work for you.