Standing for long hours is as harmful to the body as is sitting at a workstation. Being on your feet might help burn calories, but it is one of the most common reasons for lower back pain. A large number of individuals, especially those in the retail and hospitality industries, have to be on their feet for 8-10 hour stretches, sometimes longer. This has a long term affect on posture which in term effects energy levels. It only takes a couple of minutes from ones busy routine to greatly minimize the long term effects of prolonged standing. Therefore greatly increasing ones stamina and overall productivity. Having said that, let’s look at five active stretches that hospitality and retail industry would find beneficial as part of a pre and post ritual. Believe me, it won’t take more than five minutes!
What is an Active Stretch?
Active stretch means controlled gentle movements while extending a muscle and breathing. Holding a stretch is not considered an active stretch. Active stretching encourages a greater range of muscle movement. These are not erratic or highly energized movements, rather very controlled movements baring in mind your own personal limits. Your body will tell you how far it will stretch. In time though, challenge each stretch by breathing and stretching a little further then before!
5 Active Stretches for Retail and Hospitality Staff
1. Standing Forward Bend
Standing forward bend strengthens the thighs and knees, which reduces stress and fatigue. For those who stand for long hours, the stretch can also improve the strength and flexibility of their spine. To perform standing forward bend:
- Stand straight and ensure that palms are resting on the sides of thighs
- Breath slowly while bringing hands down on front towards your feet
- With every breath, try to reach as far as possible
- Try to touch the floor with fingertips or palms
Make sure that breathing and movements are fluidic while stretching.
2. Advance Standing Forward Bend
An extension of standing forward bend, which is also good for the health of your spine. To perform advanced standing forward bend:
- Try all the steps mentioned for standing forward bend
- Once you are hanging with hands touching toes, try and bend down to knees slowly
- Remain in the position for 1-2 minutes and take deep breaths while bending
3. Standing Supported Back Bend
Another amazing stretch for the spine, standing supported back bend improves postures and also cures pain in the hip, neck, and back. To perform the stretch:
- Stand facing the chair
- Raise both the hands at 180 degrees
- Place the hands on the backrest of the chair and move them till chest is parallel to the ground
- Try bending the body at an angle of 90 degrees
- Try to extend the thoracic spine and stay in the position for 40 seconds
- Come back to standing position
4. Standing Calf Stretch
Standing calf stretch improves the flexibility of front-thigh muscles. To perform the stretch:
- Stand while keeping feet hip-width apart
- Take a deep breath to pull abdominal muscles and relax your shoulders
- Bend to right and bring the heel towards butts
- Hold the right foot with left hand and try to stay in the same position for 20-30 seconds
- Breath and hold the stretch for 10 seconds
- Come back to standing position and switch legs
You can also rest the right foot on the seat of the chair to balance the body properly.
5. Extended chest stretch using the chair
Extended chest stretch is amazing for chest, shoulders, and arms. It improves the posture and positively affects the range of motion and flexibility of the front body. To perform the stretch:
- Sit on the chair and bring your arms forward
- Make sure that you are sitting straight and arms are parallel to thighs
- Interlock the fingers and stretch the body
- Take the arms backward and interlock the fingers again
- Lean forward and try to push the interlocked fingers towards the ceiling
- Inhale while pushing yourself
- Stay in the position for 15-30 seconds
Rectus abdominis and external obliques are two muscles majorly involved in exhalation. As both the muscles posteriorly tilt the pelvis, when you exhale fully, the pelvis tilts and ribs come down. This can provide you with some relief from lower back tightness.
Make relief postures a part of your routine
Changing postures constantly can provide a huge relief to the body. Taking time out to sit, goING into lunge or squat position came make a world of difference during those long shifts. Make these relief postures a part of your routine to stay active and more productive at the workplace for longer. If possible, try out these types of stretching exercises that can be done while siting on office chair.
Pay attention to your footwear
Not many people know that footwear could increase discomfort, especially when they have to be on their feet the entire day. When it comes to footwear, be extremely particular. Because every foot is different, you need to figure out which footwear, size or shape is made for your feet.
The Wrap Up
Standing for prolonged hours could have a terrible impact on the health of your body and feet. Try these stretches to minimize the problem of lower back pain, swollen legs, and tight calves. By taking five minutes out of your time before a work shift to add these exercises, you will greatly reduce the long term effects of lifelong chronic disorders and ailments.