29 October, 2018 Physician Lyonel Ng

5 Workplace Stretches Towards A Better Posture

Desk-bound work is a common contributing factor to many chronic pain haunting individuals nowadays. As individuals focus more on lifestyle changes such as exercising and dieting to achieve a healthier and pain-free life, they tend to overlook a major component for their daily routine. Singaporeans usually spend around 8 hours a day working and for most of us, it involves being seated behind a computer for hours straight. The cold air conditioning and our thin attire to brave the scorching weather, together with a poor sitting posture, brews trouble (especially pain) for the white-collar workers.

According to the ancient Chinese medical classic《黄帝内经·素问·宣明五气篇》:“久视伤血,久卧伤气,久坐伤肉,久立伤骨,久行伤筋,是谓五劳所伤”, it describes how five different forms of ‘overuses’ affect our body. Of the five, “久坐伤肉” is of the most relevance. It means that prolonged sitting is detrimental to our muscles such as its strength and elasticity, both of which are essential in the function and health of our joints and the prevention of complications resulting in pain.

Another common classical saying is derived from 《素问·举痛论》:“痛而闭不通矣” and “脉泣则血虚,血虚则痛”, is “不通则痛,不荣则痛”, which translates to “stagnation within and malnutrition of the meridian channels cause pain”. This can be interpreted to suggest poor circulation as a cause of pain. Lower temperature brings about vasoconstriction, thus reducing the blood circulation of limbs, thereby causing pain.

Instead of just wearing more layers of clothing in the office, we can also cultivate a good working habit which comprises of a good posture and ‘sit-stand’ cycle. A good sit-stand cycle comprises a break of 5-10 minutes of moving around for every 45-60 minutes of sitting.

Here are 5 stretches (for 5 minutes) we can adopt to address the tightness (loss of muscle elasticity) we get from prolonged sitting:

Neck

Sides (Left and Right)

• Tilt your head to the right.
• With your right hand, reach over your head and place it on the left side of the head (middle finger touching the top of the left ear).
• Allow the weight of the hand to gently assist in increasing the stretch of the left side of the neck.
• Hold for 15 seconds and switch sides.

Back

• Bend your head forward.
• With both hands, place them over the protrusion on the back of the head.
• Similarly, allow the weight of the hands to gently assist in the stretch.
• Hold for 15 seconds.

Front


• Bend your head backwards while maintaining an upright torso.
• Hold for 15 seconds (do not use the hands to apply additional pressure).

 

Shoulders

• Start with the shoulders slightly slouched.
• Slowly move the shoulders back and up, forming a circular motion (try to achieve a full range of motion), while keeping the neck stationary.
• Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions, resting 5 seconds in between.

 

Chest

• Stand in the middle of the doorway in a high-lunge position with the right leg forward.
• Place the right forearm along the edge of the door frame with elbows bent to 90 degrees and upper arm parallel to the ground.
• Shift the body weight onto the right leg by leaning forward and keeping the torso squared forward, until a stretch is felt at the right chest.
• Hold for 15 seconds and switch sides.
• Rest and repeat the set once more for a total of 2 sets.

 

Hip Flexor

• With a cushion/padding under your right knee, lunge forward with the left leg while keeping the right knee bent and placed in the cushion. Be sure not to let the left knee go past the foot.
• Brace the abs and stabilise the hips. Keep the hip squared forward, not tilting to the side or forward. Keep the back straight and upright.
• While keeping a constant squeeze of the right glute (butt), allow the hip to sink down and forward, and the right leg to move back as the stretch gets deeper.
• Hold for 15 seconds and feel the stretch in the right hip, then switch sides.
• Rest and repeat the set once more for a total of 2 sets.

 

Calf

Straight leg stretch

 

• Stand facing a wall with arms straight in front and hands flat against the wall.
• Step the right foot back, adopting a lunge position with the left (front) leg bent and the right (back) leg straight.
• While keeping the right leg straight and right heel on the ground, lean forward and feel the stretch at the right calf.
• Hold for 15 seconds and switch sides.
• Ensure that both feet are pointing forward during the stretch
• Do note that the further the feet are apart, the deeper the stretch will be.

Bent leg stretch

• Repeat the steps above except with a bent back leg.

Happy stretching!

Article by Physician Lyonel Ng

 

Note: In case of any numbness, dizziness or other discomforts during these stretches/exercises, please stop immediately and seek professional advice before continuing.

About the Author

Physician Lyonel Ng Physician Lyonel Ng is a registered TCM Practitioner in PULSE. He graduated in B.Sc. in Biomedical Science and Bachelor’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Nanyang Technological University and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. Physician Ng believes that many pain, especially chronic pain, originates from one’s lifestyle choices. With a good understanding of patients’ lifestyle and grasp in the biomechanics of the body, he tailors a complete treatment plan consisting of various acupuncture and manipulation techniques to relieve pain and prevent future occurrence of pain.

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