Anyone who works, sitting or standing, in one position all day long knows about a sore back and neck.


“Many people stay in one position for half a day or longer as they work at their desks,” says John Griffin, a professor in fitness and lifestyle management. “Our bodies are not set up to hold one posture for that length of time and the long-term, negative effect of this is that certain muscles get tightened and others lose their strength, permanently ch­anging our posture.”


The solution, according to Griffin, is a time of reflection. “We suggest you stand and stretch for at least four minutes every hour.”


A good time to do this is when making a phone call. “People think, ‘Well, I can’t look at the screen now anyway.’”


Griffin recommends doing the following stretch while on the phone. “Stand up and place the heel of your outstretched leg on a stable chair or partially opened, lower desk drawer. Don’t lock the knee. Lean forward gently, bending at the hips more than the back until you feel mild tension (but no pain) in the back of the thigh or behind the knee. Breathing naturally, hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.”

By changing your posture and stretching tired muscles, you give them a chance to recover, and reduce the chance of permanent changes. Doing this a few times a day can make a tremendous difference to the health of your back, says Griffin.