Tension builds at the back of our necks as we’re constantly hunched over our phones. Chiropractor Dr Neil Stakes of chiropractic clinic Back II Life explains: “Flexing the neck stretches the muscles at the back of the neck that are required for an upright posture. This lengthens them and causes the chest to cave in as the muscles there are shortened, reinforcing the hunched posture.”
Fix it: Keep your head and neck upright, without lifting your chin. Tilt your head to the left, so you feel a stretch between the right side of your neck and your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then switch sides. Repeat three times for each side. Do this three to five times a day, says chiropractor Dr Gary Tho of Chiro Works Family and Sports Clinic.
Typing with your wrists turned inwards at an unnatural angle can exert unnecessary pressure on the joints. In extreme cases, this can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which results in a tingling sensation in your hands and the weakening of your hand muscles.
Fix it: “Rotating your wrists clockwise and anticlockwise can help improve blood flow and relieve slight soreness,” says Dr Stakes. Dr Tho recommends a simple wrist stretch: Sit with your shoulders relaxed and extend your right arm forward with your palm facing the ceiling. Use your left hand to gently bend your right wrist backward. Then, turn over your right palm so it faces the floor, and use your other hand to gently bend your right wrist so your fingers point toward the ground. Hold each stretch for at least five breaths, then repeat on your left hand. Do three reps and repeat every hour if you have wrist pain.
These are often a result of spending all day in front of the computer with your seat either too high or too low. Cradling your phone between your shoulder and your ear might also place unnecessary stress on your neck joints and muscles, says Dr Tho.
Fix it: Simple shoulder shrugs can help, says Dr Stakes. As you inhale, tense your shoulders and bring them upwards towards your ears. Hold for 10 seconds, exhale, relax and quickly drop your shoulders. Then breathe in and out for six seconds each with your shoulders relaxed. Repeat this exercise three times every hour.
Sitting for more than an hour puts two and a half times more pressure on the spine than standing, says Dr Stakes. “This can lead to disc and joint degeneration.”
Fix it: Take a walk to the water cooler or just stand for a while. “This helps to get your back to a neutral position, and relieves the pressure on it,” says Dr Tho. Alternatively, while seated at your desk, get into the brace position – sit on the front half of your chair with your feet firmly on the ground, then bend forward, bringing your chest towards your knees. Hold the stretch for five breaths. Do three reps every hour.
This story was first published in HerWorld Magazine August 2014.
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