Being shackled to your desk for hours on end could have severe adverse impacts on your health. Even with many employees and independent professionals working from home or settling into a hybrid model of work, the scenario hasn’t changed much. Due to a work set-up that’s less than ideal, either at the workplace or home, many workers have been experiencing back issues and ending up with poor posture. You may not believe it, but a whopping 4,70,000 workers in the United Kingdom have had a work-related musculoskeletal disorder!

Are you troubled by neck or back pain due to sitting at your work desk for long hours? Or are leg aches troubling you? If you’re struggling to find ways to keep moving when working, here are some top tips that can help. But before we talk about them, there are a few important things you should remember.

Desk workers typically face two key challenges. One – they’re stationary for long durations, and second – they have poor desk set-ups. Experts suggest you move at least every 45 minutes. This translates to around 10 times a day in case you have an 8-hour workday.

The human body is made to move. However, if you sit for long hours without the chance to move around or stretch frequently, your tissues will become dehydrated. This dehydration will cause your tissues to stick together, which will make you feel stiff. If this continues and you suffer from prolonged periods of stiffness, the condition will eventually trigger pain.

Here are some ideal exercises you can do while being seated (or standing) at your desk to ensure your body moves:

  • Rolling the foot: You can take a spikey ball or tennis ball, put it under your desk, position your foot on it, and roll the ball underneath for a few minutes. You can repeat the steps with your other foot. This simple exercise will help relax your foot muscles and ensure good blood circulation.  
  • Calf pumps: This involves rotating your ankles in clockwise and anticlockwise directions, one leg at a time. By keeping your calf muscles working, this exercise will prevent ailments like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that are triggered due to prolonged sitting without any movement in-between. Calf pumps also help relax tight lower leg muscles and boost circulation.
  • Spine bending: To keep your spine flexible, adding some side bends into your daily routine will be good. While sitting on your chair, you can let your spine bend to the left and make your left arm slide down the side of the chair. Make your pelvis stay heavy and balanced. Use your pelvis’s weight to lift your spine back up and repeat the steps on the other side.
  • Spine rotation: Your spine can get tight and fixed in a specific position due to prolonged hours of being seated at your desk and staring at your computer. You need to launch some counter actions gently to prevent a build-up of stiff muscles that can lead to pain. Spine rotation is a good exercise that you can do easily. While sitting on the chair, position your right hand on your left thigh, gently rotate your spine to the left, and look over your left shoulder to stretch your neck too. Repeat the same steps the other way.
  • Seated roll forward: It’s an excellent release for the spine. You need to sit on your chair, turned away from your desk, and have your feet firmly positioned on the floor. Make your hands rest on your thighs. Now, begin rolling your spine forward, and let your hands slide down the legs, towards your feet, while you keep your chin tucked in. Once your hands reach the feet, inhale to expand your lungs and stretch your thoracic spine. To come back to the original position, press your feet into the ground and begin rolling the pelvis back, which will pull your spine back to the vertical position. 
  • Spot marching: Stand straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your left knee as high as you can without leaning back. Lift your right arm in the front for on-the-spot marching. Switch your legs and arms to continue marching on the spot for a few minutes. This will not just use your calf muscles but engage all muscle groups in your body to give you a full-body workout.
  • Heel raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands lightly resting on the chair in front of you. While balancing your body weight on the balls of your feet, slowly lift your heels as far as you can comfortably. At the top of the lift, try to squeeze your calf muscles. Then, bring your heels back to the ground slowly and repeat.

Since all these exercises are pretty easy and would take just a few minutes, you can integrate them into your workday to ensure your body is getting enough movement. This way, you can keep several ailments away and give both your health and mood a significant boost.

Thank you for reading,

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This article was written by
Arash is Director of Operations for InHunt World. His background includes business development, strategic planning and marketing, as well as experience in negotiations, funding, scaling, internationalization, headhunting and venture capital.