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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

Stiff at Work

Whether you're working from home or from the office, staying in the same position for long periods can leave you feeling stiff and uncomfortable.

About one in four people who experience discomfort and pain blame it on being in one position for hours at a time. Sitting, reclining or standing... staying stationary for extended stretches of time doesn't leave anyone feeling their best.

Fortunately, studies show that getting up and moving more positively impacts health, mood and posture. Adding just a few minutes of movement can help lead to benefits such as more energy, a better mood, increased blood flow, higher metabolism, and better posture.

Here are five tips to help you reduce stiffness and discomfort at work.

Person sitting at a work desk stretching their shoulder.

1) Incorporate Just 3 Minutes of Movement

Studies indicate that moving for just three minutes every hour can have a big health impact. It's easy to add three minutes of movement through simple steps such as:

  • Taking the stairs, rather than the elevator
  • Getting up and walking to the printer or grabbing a snack from your kitchen
  • Walking to your mailbox and back
  • Stand up and walk in place while talking on the phone

2) Use Technology to Keep You on Track

If it seems difficult to remember to move once per hour, let technology help you out. Simply set an alarm or timer on your smartphone or watch to remind you to get up and move regularly.

3) Take a Deep Breath

Along with lack of movement, work stress can increase feelings of stiffness and pain. Deep breathing exercises can help calm the nervous system and help reduce stress and anxiety.

Take a few minutes to find a comfortable spot where you can focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply and pay attention to how your breath feels as fills your diaphragm. Exhale slowly, focusing your attention on your breath throughout the process.

Now breathe in for a count of three, pause, then breathe out as you count to four. As you breathe, notice how the different parts of your body feel. You may notice tension or stiffness in certain areas; continue deep breathing until you feel your body relax and stress float away.

4) Set Up for Success

Slumping, bending your neck, and looking down at a screen for hours can all lead to stiffness and discomfort. Set up your workspace to improve ergonomics.

  • Place computer screens at eye level, so you're not looking down
  • Support your lower back with a lumbar roll (this can simply be a small, rolled towel placed between your back and chair)
  • Use a separate mouse and keyboard so your shoulders, arms and hands can be comfortable
  • Use a headset or speaker function when talking on the phone, so you don't tilt your head to the side

5) Change Habits for the Better

Certain habits are easy to fall into but can lead to stiffness and pain. One prime example: taking lunch at your desk so you can continue working. Instead, take a true break. Simply getting away from your desk can motivate you to move more. Consider adding a "walking lunch" to your routine.

When it comes to eliminating stiffness at work, even small changes can make a difference. By taking time to move, stretch, reduce stress and form better habits, a little effort can go a long way toward making you feel better.

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