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Stretching: An Introduction

Sitting for long periods is a very recent occurrence in human history and has resulted in people experiencing pain and related symptoms. Neck and shoulder stiffness, lower back pain, stiff muscles, and tight joints are common complaints of people working at computers or desks. These symptoms are signals given by the body to indicate something is wrong.

Stretching is a solution for people who want to counteract the negative effects that fixed positions and sedentary work have on their bodies. Stretching is a simple activity which can make you feel better and can be relaxing. It can prevent computer-related problems before they start, and if injury has occurred, help with the rehabilitation.

When to Stretch
Stretching every hour throughout the day can help avoid stiffness and make you feel better. You can stretch:
  • On the job, to release nervous tension
  • While your computer is processing something, if only for 5 to 10 seconds
  • Whenever you feel stiff, sore, or tired
  • Before or after taking a walk
  • In the morning, just after getting up, and in the evening, before sleep
  • When you need more energy
  • Whenever you want to focus and do your best
Where to Stretch
You can stretch at your computer, or at your desk, and a variety of places. You can stretch:
  • When you're a passenger in a car, bus, train on the way to work
  • At your desk
  • While on the phone
  • At the copy machine
  • At the filing cabinet or drinking fountain
  • At office meetings
  • While standing or waiting in line
  • Before getting up to go anywhere
Benefits of Stretching
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Improve circulation
  • Reduce anxiety, stress, and fatigue
  • Improve mental alterness
  • Decrease the risk of injury
  • Make your work easier
  • Make you feel better!
The Right Way to Stretch
  • Breathe easily
  • Relax
  • Tune into your body
  • Focus on muscles and joints being stretched
  • Feel the stretch
  • Be guided by the feel of the stretch
  • No bouncing!
  • No pain!
The Wrong Way to Stretch
  • Holding your breath
  • Being in a hurry
  • Not being focused on your body
  • Stretching while tense
  • Bouncing
  • Stretching to the point of pain
The Easy Stretch

Stretch until you feel a slight tension and hold for 5-10 seconds. Relax. As you hold the stretch, the feeling of tension should diminish. If it doesn't, ease off into a more comfortable stretch. The easy stretch maintains flexibility, loosens muscles and tendons, and reduces muscle tension.

Keep the Following Pints in Mind When Stretching
  • Always stretch within your comfort limits, never to the point of pain.
  • Breathe slowly, rhythmically, and under control. Do not hold your breath.
  • Take your time. A long-sustained, mild stretch reduces unwanted muscle tension and tightness.
  • Any stretch that grows in intensity or becomes painful means you are overstretching.
No bouncing
No pain

Stretching is not exercies! You are not exercising so you don't need to push it. Stretching is a mild, gentle activity. Your body is different every day. Be guided by how the stretch feels.

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