I don’t know about you, but sometimes—especially during too-busy workweeks—I end up sitting hunched over my computer for way too many hours. And that’s a really bad thing.
Sitting is increasingly being linked to a variety of deadly illnesses, even for those who run or exercise in other ways. In addition, sitting at your computer typing away without a break puts you at risk for all kinds of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). And for those of us whose paying jobs require that we use the computer all day, and whose creative pursuits demand that we use it some more, well, we have to be even more diligent about getting up to walk around the house or office every hour or so, and sneaking lunch walks or other sources of movement and stretching into our day at regular intervals.
The stretching part of this recommendation is the subject of an article I wrote a few months ago, “Office Yoga: Sneak These 10 Stretches into Your Day,”* and I thought it would be helpful to share it now, since we’re in that oh-so-wonderful but oh-so-stressful holiday season, which can also include heavier workloads to prepare for time off.
One note in particular I’d like to highlight from my research for the article: When I interviewed Sandy Blaine, author of Yoga for Computer Users and longtime resident yoga teacher at Pixar Animation Studios, she greatly emphasized the importance of regular stretching since RSIs, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are incredibly difficult to treat once you have them. This is an area where an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. (But then, when isn’t that the case?) Since ironically I started to feel some of this in my wrists and forearms just after writing that article—I blame it on a new small laptop I’d been using in a less-than-ergonomic position—I want to personally emphasize the importance of frequent stretching as well. Even if you don’t do an “official” pose, be sure to occasionally stand up and stretch, flex your wrists, circle your hands around, roll your shoulders, stretch your back, and any other place that feels tight. In other words, try and stretch your whole body. This is because RSIs that happen in your wrist and forearms are actually the result of holding stress in your neck, shoulders, and other spots, according to Blaine, so be sure to take a comprehensive approach to your stretching.
For a list of the 10 stretches, along with instructions and photos, check out the article now.
*This article, originally published on Input Output, a former Federated Media site published by HP, has been recreated on Books+Body.