“Improvement Comes from Movement”
Whether you kept traditional office hours or now work from home, we are all under more stress as we adapt to change and navigate the unknown. As many individuals are now working from home away from their usual workstations, possibly taking on the additional workload of laid-off coworkers, and adding the hat of homeschool teacher, stress is being felt physically as much as it is mentally. Activity and movement can really help.
Activity improves concentration, creativity, mood, and productivity. It is the low-hanging fruit for feeling better and performing better and is increasingly important in today’s work environment. Activity can be as simple as shifting positions throughout the workday or stretching a muscle group every hour. Really, anything that promotes circulation is beneficial. On a chronic overuse injury standpoint, it is believed that the lack of movement variability is a better predictor of injury than is posture or form. We aren’t saying the latter is not important, we’re saying movement is the key to improvement!
Again, in this case, movement does not mean getting down and pumping out 25 push-ups or doing treadmill sprints on your lunch break (although those can be great for you), movement can be done without even leaving your chair. Here are a couple examples for you to try:
- Turn, tilt, and nod your head twice in each direction.
- Draw your shoulder blades backwards and forwards, then up and down.
- Lean back in your chair and make a “snow angel” movement of your arms overhead.
- Forearm stretch palms-up 5 seconds then palms-down 5 seconds.
- Arch your lower back forward and backward a couple times in your chair.
- Sit upright and twist side to side a couple times.
- Cross one leg over the other (newspaper reading position) and lean forward to stretch your hip. Repeat on the other side.
- Extend one knee/leg out in front of you and pull your toes towards your nose. Repeat on the other side.
For some people, movement is second nature. They do it because they enjoy it; it is the way their mind and body work. For others, it is more of a struggle. They get so focused on tasks and deadlines that they push through breaks just to keep up. That is understandable, but it may be making work more difficult for yourself. Remember, activity improves concentration, creativity, mood, and productivity. Breaking up tasks with activity can actually improve your work outcomes. Work less, feel better and accomplish more? I thought that would catch your attention! Here are a couple tips for beginning or maintaining movement goals:
- Go for a walk when it is practical. If able, put on headphones during a phone call and walk around your house. During a longer break, consider walking around outside for 5+ minutes at a brisk pace. Stand up and move around the house to drink water at least once every hour.
- Easy to say, harder to do. Make small, achievable goals to help get you moving in the right direction.
- Try practicing that “mini movement break” once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Then increase the frequency a bit as you’re able.
- Small activity is important during the workday, but movement should not be limited to work hours. Exercise before and/or after work will help strengthen your mind, making activities the next hour or even next day easier.
- Mark a dot or star on a paper calendar, in a frequently visible area, on days that you went on any kind of purposeful walk or exercise. Simply seeing your activity patterns on a weekly and monthly basis can be motivating.
- Enjoy the movement break! It can be a great stress reliever, both physically and mentally.
For more help improving your comfort, we can perform virtual ergonomic assessments while you are seated at your individual workstation. If your body is already feeling the negative effects of working from home, we can perform a personal or work injury evaluation either virtually or in-person, followed up by treatments, as necessary. For all other pain and injuries, we are happy to help at one of our five local clinics or can simply answer your questions over the phone. To get started, you may schedule an appointment online today.