In a world where most industries are dominated by desk jobs and where people find their extra pay by driving, it is easy to focus on fitness solutions for the problems that plague those sedentary lifestyles. It is equally easy to take for granted the contractors and workers who construct those offices in which those workers live those sedentary lives, and easy to overlook the much more varied and complex physiological challenges those contractors face.
From head to toe, manual workers face myriad opportunities for injuries and chronic pain. Fortunately, there are myriad stretches and exercises to prevent those problems. Below are just a few that will help protect the most important areas.
Neck and Shoulder Tension Relief
Neck rolls – Relax your shoulders and lean your head towards your right shoulder like your trapezius is trying to whisper something to your ear. Without tensing, reach your arms downward to elongate the stretch. After 2-3 deep breaths, roll your chin smoothly to your chest and across to your other shoulder. Repeat for a total of 6-8 repetitions (3-4 stretches to each side).
Shoulder rolls – Shrug your shoulders in a circular motion from front to back. Keep your neck relaxed as much as possible. Repeat for 6-8, and then switch sides.
Chest and Back Tension Relief
Cross-body reach – Hold your right arm straight across your chest so that the inside of that elbow is close to your collarbone. Hug your right arm with your left arm and breathe slowly, gently pulling that arm a little further during each exhale. Repeat 3-5 times and then switch arms.
Behind-the-neck reach – Reach both arms up, and bend one elbow to reach that hand to between your shoulder blades. Use your other hand to gently pull the elbow inwards to deepen the stretch. Hold for 3-5 breaths, deepening the stretch with each exhale.
Chest/back stretch – Interlink your hands in front of you and round your back to stretch your shoulder blades. Hold this stretch for 3-5 deep breaths. Then interlink your hands behind your back. Pull down and away for 3-5 breaths to stretch your chest. Repeat each side.
Leg Tension Relief
Straight leg forward bend – Stand with your feet either together or hip-width apart, whichever is more comfortable. Bend forward at the waist and reach your hands to your shins or as low as is comfortable towards the floor. Take 3-5 deep breaths here, easing your hands further down with each exhale.
Wide-leg forward bend – Stand with your feet one leg’s length apart and bend forward at the waist. Cross your arms and bend as low as you comfortably can towards the floor. Take 3-5 breaths here, easing deeper into the stretch with each exhale. You can also relax your lower back here and rock gently from side to side as you stretch.
Runner stretch – Stay in your wide-leg forward bend and turn towards your right leg. Frame your right foot with both your hands and stretch in that forward lunge. Take 3-5 slow breaths there, easing into the stretch with each exhale. Straighten your right leg, using your arms for balance if you need, and lift your toes off the floor to stretch from your hamstring down to your calf muscle. Take 3-5 breaths there, easing into the stretch with each exhale. Bend your knee into the lunge for two breaths, come back to your wide-leg forward bend, and switch sides.
As a reminder, none of these stretches or exercises should feel painful. If you experience any pain or discomfort outside the norm for exercise, cease the motion and call us as soon as possible at 503-256-4830. Se Habla Español