You finally stand up after sitting all day at your desk, and your hips, lower back, and shoulders are screamingly tense and sore. Shake off the tightness and stress of the day by stepping onto a yoga mat, and do this relaxing yoga sequence to target all those oh-so-tight areas.
If you're working on a computer all day, you may be putting yourself at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, which houses the median nerve and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This nerve controls sensations to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.
Some people are more prone to this because they have a smaller carpal tunnel, but women are three times more likely develop CTS. It can also be caused by an injury, fluid retention during pregnancy, or repetitive motions like using a mouse or keyboard. Take matters into your own hands and learn five ways to prevent the pain and tingly sensations caused by CTS.
- Revamp your setup: Be aware about your desk ergonomics at the office. Keep your keyboard, mouse, and phone within your forearm's length, and adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard. When you set your keys up this way, you don't have to flex your wrists to type.
- Prop up: Using a long pads that run along the length of your keyboard to prop up the heels of your palms. This way your forearms, wrists, and hands are in one straight line, which can prevent the nerve from getting squeezed. If your mousing hand bothers you, try a mouse pad with support and cushioning the so that you rest your wrist more comfortably.
- New keys: Setting up correctly helps, but your wrist may benefit from using a ergonomic keyboard like the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard ($50) so that hands and wrists type in a more natural position.
- Go for height: If you're using a regular mouse and it bothers your wrist, pick up a vertical mouse. The Ergoguys Wow Pen Joy Vertical Mouse ($30) works so that your thumb is pointing straight up. It may feel more comfortable on your wrist.
- Break for a stretch: Take regularly from using your mouse and typing. Regularly perform wrist stretches at your desk to promote strength that will keep your wrists safe from CTS.
Working at a desk all day can be hard on the body and mind, but allowing yourself a chance to stretch during the workday gives your body the TLC it deserves. Depending on your office environment, you might be hesitant to take the time for a stretch break, but here are reasons to start adding it to your day-to-day routine.
It improves flexibility: Sitting in an upright position for hours on end wreaks havoc on the natural curvature of the spine. If your lower back always feels tight and uncomfortable, or your shoulders feel like they're inching up towards your ears, moving through a few stretches every day will help relieve that constant tension, both inside and outside of the workplace.
It leaves you refreshed: It may seem counterintuitive, but taking time for a break can improve your work flow and productivity. When you step away from your desk and release the stresses of your responsibilities, you come back to your work with a clear mind, ready to tackle the rest of your day.
If you're concerned about making stretch time part of your schedule, keep reading for three tips to formulate a plan.
Listen up: even after a long day at work, you can have your best workout yet! Follow these tips (recipes and workouts included) to maximize your gym time and minimize those excuses — even when the 3 p.m. slump hits you hard.
- Have a plan: Before your day gets started, make sure you have an agenda. Have a set gym time and an idea of what type of workout you want to do; this will help prevent a rough morning from deterring you later. If you need an extra push, ask a workout buddy to meet you (it's hard to cancel on a friend!) or sign up for a group class that has a set start time. At the very least, consider one of these cardio workouts.
- Pack your bags: Before you head to work, pack the essentials and bring your gym bag to work. This extra planning will prevent you from having to make a trip home, and it ensures you will have everything you need for a good workout. A packed bag also reinforces your after-work plans throughout the day as you glance at it sitting beside your desk.
- Hydrate: To make the most of your workout, hydration should happen long before the gym. To avoid dehydration, always keep a filled water bottle with you. All of this will help prevent you from downing too much water right before the gym. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also doesn't leave the body with enough time to fuel and hydrate the muscles. Check out our hydration calculator to find out exactly how much you should be drinking each day.
- Plan meals wisely: When it comes to nutrition, timing is everything. Begin with a healthy breakfast and build from there. For lunch, eat a meal that is a mix of carbs, proteins, fiber, and healthy fats, avoiding gassy foods since they may cause intestinal discomfort. As you get closer to your workout, make carbs with a bit of protein the focus to keep you energized and avoid muscle soreness. If you're in a time crunch minutes before the gym, sip a sports drink or eat something light and easily digestible like a few saltine crackers or jellybeans.
With the amount of time we spend at work, it's important to make the day as healthy as possible. It may be challenging with all the sitting, stressful projects, and unhealthy office snacks. When work starts to take a toll on your healthy habits, it's not as hard as you think to reverse the effects. Here are five easy ways to make sure that work is one of the healthiest parts of your day.
Your long commute isn't just stressing you out — it can actually affect your running performance. Here are three parts of your commute that may be affecting your progress as a runner and how to make sure they don't!
- You sit during your commute: All that time spent in your car can lead to tight hips, body imbalances, or lower-back pain, which can interrupt your running routine. Make sure you incorporate stretches into your day to combat those hours you spend in your car; these essential stretches for tight hips will help you address imbalances and stretch those neglected hip flexors.
- You wear heels: Those stilettos may make you feel ready for anything (and make your legs seem longer and leaner), but if you are always wearing heels during your commute, you may be hurting your running career. Wearing heels shortens calf muscles, which can lead to more running injuries, so switch to flats while you sit in your car or run to the bus (or limit heel wearing to twice a week) to give your leg muscles a break. If your shoe closet has more heels than flats, make these four stretches high-heel wearers should do part of your weekly routine!
- Your commute is long: There's nothing like a traffic-filled, hours-long commute to kick any enthusiasm for a before- or after-office workout session out the door. Combat all that time wasted with quick workouts you can fit in at lunch or these 10-minute workouts you can blast through before you hit the road.
If snacking all day is the downfall to your weight-loss goals, it's time to revamp your habit. These store-bought snacks are easy to stash in your desk or office kitchen fridge; when you feel like nibbling, grab one of these instead of heading to the vending machine!
Kale chips: One of our June Must Haves, the Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips are a serious contender when it comes to potato chip alternatives you may actually prefer over the fried stuff. They come in several addictive flavors, and while each chip is loaded with spicy, sweet, or salty goodness, you'll be happy to know that there's nothing but recognizable (and mostly organic) ingredients in each. Each one-ounce serving (half a bag) is 160-170 calories.
Energy bars: Some protein bars can be full of unpronounceable ingredients — which is why KIND bars are a great alternative. These 200-calorie bars are chock-full of healthy fats and protein so you can curb hunger healthfully. Try the dark chocolate nuts and sea salt flavor for a filling snack that also satisfies your sweet tooth.
Yogurt: If your afternoon isn't complete without a sweet treat, then this coffee Chobani Bite, made with dark chocolate chips, will become your new best friend. At only 100 calories per serving, it's just the right amount of sweetness and chocolate to keep you away from the candy bowl.
Expert teacher Shiva Rea is a pioneer in the yoga community, so it's no surprise that she's a fixture at the four-day yoga and music Wanderlust Festival, happening at various locations across North America.
While the yoga life is a good one, Shiva recognizes that not everyone has the opportunity to practice yoga for hours every day. When we asked her for the number one pose for 9-to-5ers who sit at a desk, her response was the "all-around asana" Downward Facing Dog, since it's "an inversion, backbend, and forward bend" all rolled into one.
For people who can't drop to the floor and enjoy yoga freely at the office, Shiva offers a desk-approved version of Downward Dog. Keep reading to learn the variation that will help you release tension at work.
When you're at work, leaving the office for some fresh air can change your day. But if you're swamped with work and tied to your desk, this isn't always a viable option. Even if you can't leave, you can still treat your body to a quick stretching session. Watch this video for three moves that will relieve stress in your shoulders, neck, back, and wrists in less than a minute.