The Best Stretches & Exercises to Incorporate in Your Work Day
April 18, 20225 min read
The Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique was developed in the 1980’s. It is a commonly used method where individuals set a timer to do a work sprint for 25 minutes, followed by a five minute break. After completing four Pomodoro sprints, take a longer break of 25 - 30 minutes. The purpose of incorporating work sprints into your day is that the brain can only effectively stay on task for a finite amount of time. So by breaking up your work load into smaller more manageable pieces you are more likely to enhance your efficiency and productivity throughout your day. This technique may also help with those tasks we tend to procrastinate on or have avoidance issues with as it is broken down into manageable sections. Is also a good way to increase the amount of physical activity that you can incorporate into your day.
The Pomodoro technique is also a good way to increase the amount of physical activity that you can incorporate into your day. You could use the time to check emails, social media and other things of that nature or you could use the breaks to stretch, go for a walk, do a couple of rounds of squats or simply move your body around. This could be a great adjunct as it will help improve blood flow, which can reduce fatigue therefore improve concentration and productivity.
Exercises can be for a finite amount of time using a timer or for a set number of repetitions and sets within a set time frame. Longer breaks can be an opportune time to get outside and go for a walk (depending on the weather), or even walk around your work space. This can have the added benefit of Vitamin D exposure and fresh air that can help enhance your level of alertness and focus.
The following are some examples of exercises and stretches that can be added throughout your work day, please note that this list is not exhaustive and can vary depending on your work environment and if you have any equipment available to you to use such as bands, weights, balls, etc.:
Squats may be completed in a number of different ways depending on your fitness level. The easiest version would be to sit down in your chair and stand up, repeat this sequence for 10-15 repetitions for as many sets as desired. For more advanced you can complete squats of varying depths with good form while standing away from your desk.
This can be made more challenging by doing a single leg squat. If you are just learning, try extending one leg in front of you and hover it off of the floor. Sit down in your chair with control while keeping your body square with the chair. Put the foot down and stand up using both legs. This can progress to starting as above, squat down just touch the chair and come back into standing without putting your foot down. For more advanced individuals, would be to perform a full pistol squat where they would squat down to a depth that is comfortable to them and return to standing after a slight pause on the bottom, without touching the leg in front to the floor.
Standing tall on one or both feet. Transfer your weight over your toes and come up into a rise. Pause at the top and slowly lower heels back to the floor. This can be done with or without support of a wall or a chair. Try to make sure that your ankles and feet stay in alignment and that the knee is not locked out. Repeat for as many repetitions as possible or work up to at least 20 repetitions.
As with squats, push ups can be scalable. For beginners you can use the desk or a wall to complete a push up. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, arms straight (not locked), walk your feet backwards until your heels come off the ground and your body is in a straight line. Keep your core engaged and lower your body toward the desk as a single unit, pause when your chest is hovering above the desk then push away from the desk to bring the body back into the starting position. Keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle away from your body. Repeat the sequence of movements 10-15 times or as many reps as you can with good form. Complete as many sets as you want. The same sequence can be performed with your hands on your chair (if you have a non-roller chair) or the floor.
Stand facing a wall, put the ball of your foot on the wall with your toes pointed upward toward your face. Keeping your stretching leg straight while having your supporting knee slightly relaxed. Try to keep your pelvis in neutral while completing the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds. You can then take the stretching foot and step it 2 inches away from your standing leg and bend both knees. You should feel a stretch lower down on the stretching side. You may need to play with positioning with this to obtain the best angle for your body to feel a stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Standing tall and grasp onto the ankle of the stretching side. Stand tall and feel like you are tucking your tail under while bringing your stretching thigh into alignment with your standing leg. Engage your core and stand tall with your upper body, resist the temptation to lean forward. Hold for 30-60 seconds repeat on the second side.
Upper Back Stretch
Stand in a door frame facing toward the wall, grasp the frame with both hands just below shoulder level. Have your feet in the middle part of the door frame. Bend your knees and create a C curve with your spine while keeping your arms straight. Drop your chin down toward your chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Standing tall with both feet together, step back with your supporting leg so that your feet are wide apart. Keeping your back straight while transferring your weight to your back leg and bend your knee slightly. Hinge forward from your hips to bring your chest toward your front leg, lower until you can feel a slight stretch in the back of your front leg. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Other exercise suggestions:
Tricep dips - not recommended for those with shoulder issues
Lunges - forward, side, back and curtsy
Planks - elevated or from the floor
Walking backwards - do not attempt this if you have balance issues or vertigo
High knee marching
Rolling the feet, legs, glutes, hands, etc.
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