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3 stretches workers can do at their desks

Employers and employees alike often overlook the fact that offices can be hazardous places to work. While the dangers may not be as immediately obvious as those involved in trade and manufacturing sectors, many corporate workers nevertheless face an array of health risks that businesses should seek to prevent.

As Work Safe Victoria noted, the most common injuries office workers sustain are related to musculoskeletal disorders, which are caused by the extended periods of time spent sitting at a desk performing repetitive movements. What’s more, the insidious nature of bad posture and poor ergonomic practices means that employees may see not see the impact on their wellbeing until it’s too late.

Encouraging your employees to engage in regular stretching can reduce these workplace health risks. Here are three poses to help get them started:

1. Chair squats

The humble office chair can be an effective stretching tool.
The humble office chair can be an effective stretching tool.

To loosen up the legs and get your blood flowing, WebMD recommended simply standing up and sitting down multiple times throughout the day without using your hands. It might not sound difficult, but work your way up to repetitions of 10, 20 or higher and you’ll start to feel the burn.

“If you stand up and sit down (over and over) – without using your hands – it can be a challenge,” said Angela Smith, orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as quoted by WebMD.

“Do it while you’re on the phone; no one will know.”

2. Knee pulls

Many office workers suffer from lower back pain.
Many office workers suffer from lower back pain.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that 70-90 per cent of Australians will encounter lower back pain at some stage in their life. It’s particularly common among office workers, who typically rely on their seat for support rather than properly engaging their core.

As Mayo Clinic suggested, one way to stretch out the lower back without leaving your chair is to pull one of your knees up and towards your chest. While maintaining a straight back, hold this pose for 30 seconds, and you’ll soon feel parts of your lower back relaxing.

3. Wrist stretches

Regular stretching can help employees manage wrist pain.
Regular stretching can help employees manage wrist pain.

Given the volume of typing involved with office workers, it isn’t surprising that the hands are common sources of pain. To reduce the risk of injury, the University of the Sunshine Coast recommended interlocking your fingers with palms turned out, and straightening your arms until your elbows are locked out.

While regular stretching can be an effective way of reducing injury among office workers, a solid health and safety induction program can also assist with reducing workplace injuries.

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