Don't Let Your Body Go Numb at Work

Putting in long hours at the office may advance your career and your financial well-being, but it can ruin your health.

"When people sit for long periods of time, their muscles tighten and eventually weaken," said Dr. Marc Bochner, a chiropractor who specializes in sports and soft-tissue injuries.

"The lack of oxygen flow into the muscles in turn can lead to pain and injury," he said. Ironically, this is the same pain that can result from too much strenuous exercise, he added.

Regardless, under-use or overuse of muscles are both "recipes for injury." He warns that this time of year can be particularly treacherous. Not only does the cold, snowy weather keep people office-bound, but people also tend to rededicate themselves to working out in the new year after weeks or months of inactivity, he explained.

"But just because you sit all day at the office, it doesn't mean you have to let your body get out of shape," Bochner said. He identified muscles that often tighten and ways to keep the body limber while on the job.

Muscles that get tight:

   lower hamstrings, calves

   upper thigh (hip flexors)

   front of chest/shoulder

   forearm/hand muscles

Recommendations to keep the body feeling good at work:

   Take hourly breaks at least two minutes long.

   Head to the gym during lunch.

   Stretch at your desk.

Stretching at Your Desk

The slideshow above shows each stretch in detail.

   Leg Extensions (stretches hamstring/calf):

While at your desk, sit up straight with both feet on the ground. Extend one leg upright, parallel to the floor. Hold this position for six seconds to eight seconds and repeat three to five times on each side.

   Chair Lunge (stretches hip flexors):

Place one leg forward with foot resting on a chair. Extend the upper trunk, while slowly moving the pelvis forward. Hold this position for six seconds to eight seconds and repeat up to five times on each side.

  Shoulder Stretch (front of chest/shoulder) :

Hold one arm out at your side, 90 degrees to the body and bent at the elbow. From that position, rotate your arm until the forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Repeat three to five times on each side, holding each position for six seconds to eight seconds.

   Forearm Stretch:

Stretch your arms out in front of you. Grab the palm of one hand with the other and pull back. Hold for 10 seconds, alternating sides.

   Bonus Stretch -- Keeping carpal-tunnel syndrome at bay:

Place a wide rubber band around the tips of your fingers. Close and open your hand mimicking Pac-Man. This move will stretch your fingers and thumb and is especially helpful if you use your mouse a lot.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as personal advice or diagnosis without first consulting a health-care professional. If you have, or suspect you have a health-care problem, then you should immediately contact a qualified health-care professional for treatment.