Stretch Now? Ok or Cancel

February, 2017

At least a few times a year, especially when I am working towards deadlines my body goes into protest.  The protest usually comes in the form of a muscle assault from the upper shoulder area – the sharp pain mercilessly reminds me that I have been neglecting it the kind of self-care that only I can deliver. 

I know I am more productive when my muscles aren’t delivering internal blows to my psyche and I also know that stretching improves blood flow to the area that I’ve been constricting with repetitive motion.  I think most of us can attest to the fact that we get lost in our work, when we are in the zone of creative thought we lose ourselves, time doesn’t matter – it is a beautiful thing – but it can have dire consequences on our physique and health.

A few years ago, in a past job I had consulted with an ergonomics adviser who had recommended software that would help with my inability to provide self-care.  This software reminded me to stretch at intervals and also provided a 2 min animated video about which stretches to engage in.  While there were moments when I would be annoyed by its interruption I knew that acting like a petulant child would be counterproductive.  So, yes, I would do the stretches regardless of how artificial and slightly amusing they seemed, and it helped, so I continued.

Remembering the sage advice of the ergonomics adviser, I started searching for stretch reminder software.  After reviewing a few on CNET, I decided on StretchClock’s free trial version which can be installed into Firefox as an extension.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks and find it quite helpful.  It comes with a basic settings and schedule interface that can be tweaked for preferences and by default the reminder sits in your browser toolbar.

During my research on the benefits of stretching I came across a list of 12 stretches that have been suggested by orthopedic surgeons and exercise specialists to release tension from head to toe.  For these, you would need to set the alarm on your cell phone or computer to go off every hour to remind you it's time to get up and stretch.


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