Spending extended periods of time at a workstation places high levels of stress on our body, especially our arms and hands. The more time we spend at our work station, the more our muscles fatigue and gravity pulls our body forward. The result is rounded shoulders and a forward head position. Standing or sitting in a static desk posture throughout the day places a lot of stress on our tendons, nerves and muscles. The nerves in our shoulders and arms can become compressed and irritable, which can result in numbness and tingling in our hands. The muscles at the front of our chest (our pectoralis muscles) become tight and the muscles between our shoulder blades become overstretched. As a result, we can develop painful trigger points in these muscles. Over, time these issues become more difficult to correct.
Here are some simple exercises to help prevent these issues:
- Take short breaks from your work station and walk. Walking gets you out of the static positions and increases blood flow for good musculoskeletal health.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together a few times throughout the day to prevent chest stiffness, shoulder weakness, rounded shoulders and trigger points.
- Actively move all joints in your arm, including shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers while at your workstation.
- Simply checking in with your posture periodically throughout the day is a simple activity to increase your awareness of muscle tension that could develop into more serious issues.
- Set a timer on your phone or a reminder to take a break and stretch every 1-2 hours.
There are a variety of exercises a Certified Hand Therapist can assist you with, but sometimes simply keeping your body moving is the key to maintaining good health at your workstation! If you think you need the help of a Certified Hand Therapist, visit the ASHT Find a Therapist directory.
Tim Kibler, OTR/L, CHT is a Certified Hand Therapist and member of the American Society of Hand Therapists.