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a man sits at a desk with a notepad and laptop
October 18, 2018

Desk stretches to reduce pain and injury

What are desk stretches?

Why should you consider desk stretches? Making time for short breaks in your daily routine can reduce risk of injury. These “micro-breaks” should be taken before you start to feel pain, discomfort, or tiredness. That’s why it’s important to plan for them when you schedule your day.

Desk stretches don’t take much time. Other productive micro-breaks could be a quick walk up and down the stairs, or a walking meeting. These activities give your eyes and muscles a chance to recover if you spend a lot of your time at a computer.  They improve blood flow, relieve tension, and reduce the risk of eye strain.

Learn more about stretching and moving more in your workday by watching this video with Janice Jaskolka, an ergonomist in Health, Safety, and Wellness at Hamilton Health Sciences.

A visual reminder in your workspace can help you remember to make time for short exercise breaks. The infographic below provides basic instructions for the stretches highlighted in the video, plus a few others. Click the poster to download a copy so you can keep it handy in your workspace.

an infographic depicting different stretches you can do at your desk

Natural breaks from repetitive activities

Many of us need to perform repetitive tasks as part of our job. This could be typing for long periods of time, stocking products, or many other activities. There are a variety of ways to give your body a break from this repetition, in addition to desk exercises.

  • Micropauses are brief breaks to look away from your computer monitor, or pause what you’re doing and relax your arms at your sides.
  • A break from repetitive work might arise when you need to take a phone call, or when a coworker stops by for a discussion.
  • Deliberate changes in tasks can give you a break. Alternate between tasks that require different movements.
  • Formal breaks are important. During your coffee and lunch breaks, take time to relax and move around.

Rethinking your workspace

The way your workspace is organized can also have an effect on your body. Reorganizing items at your workstation can help to create a comfortable work space. A good way to start is to think about the items around you in terms of how frequently you use them in a work day.

Check out this post on creating an ergonomic workspace.