As a general rule, we sit too much. As a consequence, we carry too much weight, feel draggy, and get sore in various parts of our bodies. Engaging in an activity out of the ordinary can result in muscle soreness for days afterward.
Working at a desk job is particularly hazardous, as muscles spend a lot of time in a contracted position and our posture tends to slump. This puts undue stress on the back, shoulders, and neck. More active work requires constant mindfulness of body position and proper movement to avoid injury.
Taking over-the-counter pain meds or (even worse) pharmaceuticals may relieve immediate pain but they are certainly not a long-term solution. Standing desks help to break the tendency to sit all day.
Simple stretching exercises performed throughout the day can help to promote blood and lymph flow and improve muscle tone and digestion.
Regardless of your activity level, don’t forget to stretch. A 2012 meta-analysis reported some of the benefits of stretching:
- increased joint range of movement
- increased muscle extensibility
- increased muscle flexibility
- muscle power
- improved jumping and running performance
- spine mobility
- reduced muscle stiffness
- pain reduction.
The study’s authors recommend:
“For a general fitness program, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends static stretching for most individuals that is preceded by an active warm-up, at least 2 to 3 days per week. Each stretch should be held 15-30 seconds and repeated 2 to 4 times…Older adults may need longer stretch times than the recommended 15 to 30 seconds.” (1)