Here at The Brisbane Spine Clinic, we see clients from many different types of workplaces.
If you work in retail, hospitality or nursing, you might be on your feet all day. If you work in an office, on the other hand, you’re probably sitting down most of the time. Whatever you do for a living, stretching is a good way to relieve any pain and discomfort. Here are a few of the best ones to build into your daily routine.
1. Calf stretch
The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calf support your Achilles tendon and enable you to stand and walk. Being on your feet all day can lead to tight calf muscles, which can, in turn, lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and knee pain.
One way to ease that is to stretch your calf muscles regularly. That stimulates blood flow and can increase your flexibility and range of motion.
The stretch we’re showing you here is both convenient and efficient. It provides the greatest amount of stretch compared to other variations and its easy to do anywhere – just find the nearest wall or even the corner of the staff room kitchen bench.
- Stand facing close to a wall, with the stretching leg forward.
- Bend up the ankle and rest your toes and ball of foot on the wall as shown
- Place your hands on the wall for balance and push your body forward with your back leg. Do not overstretch. This stretch is most effective when you feel only a light pulling sensation in the calf muscle of the forward leg.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, do not bounce the stretch.
If this stretch causes you any heel pain or foot cramp, please stop and consider a consult with one of our physiotherapists at The Brisbane Spine Clinic at either our North Lakes or Eight Mile Plains locations. We will modify and prescribe a more suitable stretch for you.
2. Hamstring stretch
Whether you’re on your feet or in your seat all day, you can easily overuse your hamstrings, those muscles at the back of your thigh that help you move your legs and flex your knees.
Your hamstrings also support the gluteal muscles in your buttocks. Your glutes are strong muscles with the power to help you stand up and sit down or come to a stop when walking or running.
Sitting down all day weakens your glutes. And when your glutes can’t do their job properly, they shift the burden to your hamstrings, which have also become tight from too much sitting.
Here’s a quick and simple hamstring stretch. This one protects your spine too because you keep your lower back straight, unlike conventional hamstring stretches where you bend forward and try to touch the ground.
- Put your stretching leg about one step forward
- Keep your low back extended and straight – DO NOT SLOUCH
- Lean your body forward while maintaining a straight lower back
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing.
Stop the exercise and contact The Brisbane Spine Clinic for assessment if this stretch causes any of the following symptoms:
- Pins and needles
- Loss of sensation in your leg and foot
- Any hip or groin pain.
3. Lower back stretch
Your job can irritate your back in a few ways.
You may develop back pain in a sedentary job if your chair has inadequate support or if your posture is poor.
In a more active job, back pain can be caused by repetitive movements that twist or rotate your back or by lifting or moving heavy objects. Tradies, nurses and care workers should be particularly careful here.
Stretches for lower back pain help you ease muscle tension before it turns into more troubling pain or injury. The one shown here provides a good stretch for your middle back as well as your lower back. It’s also much easier to do at your workplace than similar stretches that require you to lie on the office floor!
- Stand in front of a chair/bench or desk
- But both hands on the chair and lean your body forward as shown
- Keep your knees slightly bent
- Extend your chest down towards the floor
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and do not bounce your stretch
Stop stretching if you experience any:
- Increase in low back discomfort
- Shoulder pain with this position.
If you’re sitting down all day, try to do a few standing stretches as above – it’s good to get out of your chair!
That said, if you’ve been on your feet all day, you might like the idea of some sitting stretches. You may also find sitting stretches easier to do at your desk while you wait to admit invitees to your next Zoom meeting.
1. Seated lateral trunk stretch
Your trunk refers to the part of your body from the top of your hips to the bottom of your neck. Your back, abdomen and chest are here. When you’re sitting for long periods, especially if you’re slumping forwards, the flexor muscles of your trunk can shorten. That’s why you need a good trunk stretch.
- Place one hand on your thigh for stability
- Lift the other hand and slowly reach it above and across your head until you feel a comfortable stretch along your side
- Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.
2. Seated knee-to-chest stretch
This is a good way to stretch your hip and lower back muscles. It can also help to ease pressure on spinal nerves.
- Sit in a chair, raise one knee up as if you are marching
- Pull the bent knee up towards your chest with your hands until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower back and back of the hip.
- Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.
3. Seated figure 4 stretch
Figure 4 stretches the muscle responsible for hip movement and stabilising the hip joint. It helps to open up your hip joints and relieve hip pain.
- Sit on a chair and cross one leg over the other so your ankle is sitting on the opposite knee
- Put one hand on the knee of the crossed leg
- Gently lean your upper body forward. Press gently on the crossed knee until you feel a stretch in your hips and buttocks
- Hold for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.
If you’ve got space and privacy at work, you may consider some floor stretches. If not, wait until you get home and do them on your bedroom or living room floor. Floor stretches often feel quite relaxing and provide an opportunity to deepen into some core or lower back stretches.
1.Lower trunk rotation stretch
- Lie on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet and knees together
- Gently lower your knees to one side and keep going until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your lower back and hip on the opposite side
- Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.
2. Prayer stretch
- Kneel down and keep your hands in front of your knees
- Slowly lower your buttocks back above your heels and stretch your arms out on the floor in front of you until you feel a stretch along your middle and lower back
- Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times.
How can The Brisbane Spine Clinic help?
You spend a lot of your time at work so it’s important that you look after yourself by maintaining good posture (whether at your desk or when standing), changing positions and taking regular breaks.
Regular stretches can also help to mitigate the ways that your job affects your body. The ones listed here are just a starting point.
When you come to The Brisbane Spine Clinic, we’re able to help far more. We explore your usual working day, your overall condition and any niggles or pains you’re experiencing. Then we use hands-on therapy to relieve tense muscles and prescribe you a program of home-based exercises to help strengthen your body.
If you are experiencing back and leg pain at work, book an appointment with one of our team today.
All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.