Damilola Alawode: Having neck, back and joints pain at work? Start these exercises now (Y! Superblogger)

Black man office exercise

Take short breaks from work and walk around the office.

One of my mentors, Ann Gates, loves to use the term ‘Exercuses’. Exercuses is not a real term but it simply means excuses for not exercising. These excuses are numerous, and a common one is; I am too busy with work to have the time for such frivolities. My dear, exercising can never ever be frivolous. It is a Life-saver! It has been proven to be effective in the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as hypertension, obesity, mental health problems, musculoskeletal problems and even the Bible in 1Tim 4:8 alludes to its importance to one’s health.

Before I digress further, this article is geared towards helping those who experience muscle and joint pains at their workplace. Many jobs especially the office types involve little movement nor repetitive motions. Neither of these sit well with your health and well being. Our body is designed to move, hence the niggling pain we experience in certain joints when we sit for long periods without stretching. I will talk about few exercises which can be performed on a daily basis to prevent our joints and muscles from becoming stiff, numb or painful while at the work-desk.

– Neck pain: Working in front of a computer screen all day will lead to pain in the neck from time to time. One of the ways of combating this is to carry out regular neck stretches which can be done in your chair at work. Slowly bring your head down so that your chin touches your chest. Apply a small amount of pressure to the back of your head using your hands and hold this position for just shy of 30 seconds. This should be repeated several times a day. This same technique can also be used while moving your head in a sideways motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, just enough to stretch out the muscles in your neck.

– Back pain: The number one cause of this in the workplace is bad posture leading to straining of the back muscles. To counteract this;

– You need to make sure that the chair you use at work supports your posture whilst sitting down. So change your chair NOW!

– Exercising of back muscles is of utmost importance. Make sure each morning/evening, you lie on your back and pull your knees up towards your chest. Hold your knees to your chest for about 30 seconds and repeat several times with one leg at a time. This allows the muscles in your back to de-stress.

– Joint pain: If your work involves sitting for extended periods, you are likely to find your joints becoming painful, particularly in your legs. Ways to prevent or alleviate the pain is to take short breaks from work and walk around the office. You can also do what is called a range of motion (ROM) exercises while at home. This involves slowly moving the relevant part of the body through its entire range of motion… for example extending and flexing of the knee while lying on your back… ROM has been found to combat joint-related problems at the root thereby preventing them from occurring.

So, when your work does not provide you with the opportunity to be active, it is important you take the initiative during working hours as stated above, and also after working hours by joining a gym if you can afford to do so. Alternatively, walking briskly for 30 minutes everyday around your neighbourhood is cheaper.


Damilola Alawode is training to be a public health physician. He is also undertaking a Msc in Sports and Exercise Medicine. He is an advocate for the promotion of physical activity/exercise.  He blogs at www.dalawode.wordpress.com and tweets from @DAlawode.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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