Working from home seemed like a god-sent gift, right from cutting down on the travel to being able to attend meetings in our pajamas, all of us were thrilled. Some of us thought, that walking to the refrigerator five times a day was enough exercise, but soon stiffness set in and most of us complained about back ache, tech neck, and shoulder pain. While regular exercise is ideal, a few simple stretches and movements can go a long way! Here’s what you can do –
Trapezius Stretch and Strength
Your trapezius muscle is a large muscle connected to your spine, shoulder, neck, and head. It is a commonly vilified muscle that you’ve no doubt heard you need to loosen and remove the ‘knots’ from, but don’t know how to. Keep reading to change that.
1. Place one hand behind your back;
2. Stand up straight;
3. Reach over the top of your head with your right hand and pull your head in a lateral direction so that your right ear moves towards your right shoulder;
4. Keep going until you feel a comfortable stretch on the left side of your neck;
5. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds, and repeat to each side 3 times. You can do this as many times a day as you feel helps you, but Step 2 is where the difference is really made.
1. Stand upright;
2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard as you can for 5 seconds and then relax;
3. Roll your shoulders forwards and then backward;
4. Repeat this circuit of movements 5-10 times every few hours.
Our elevators lift our shoulder blades (and therefore, shoulders) upwards towards our ears. Often when we are stressed, sitting at a desk for a long time, or in a cold environment (make your AC warmer!), we subconsciously shrug our shoulders upwards. Regular movement, relaxation, and warming up (seriously :)) will reduce the likelihood of them becoming painful. Here’s how you do it:
1. Sit on your left hand;
2. Sit up straight;
3. Turn your head 45° to the right;
4. Reach over the top of your head with your right hand and pull your head in a diagonal direction so that your right face moves towards your armpit (seriously);
5. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds, and repeat to each side 3 times. You can do this as many times a day as you feel helps you, and Step 2 above will help here as well.
Thoracic Mobility in Sitting
Do you often complain of pain between your shoulder blades or your mid-back region? Are you constantly standing up or shuffling around in your seat to adjust your mid-back because you’re getting pain or stiffness in these areas? Read on:
1. Move back from your desk;
2. Sit up straight in your chair;
3. Place your hands together in the middle of your chest;
4. Bend laterally to move your elbow towards the same side hip, repeat on the other side;
5. Rotate to the right as far as you can, and then come back and rotate to the left, again as far as you can;
6. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and arch your back so that you are looking at the ceiling;
7. Repeat this circuit every few hours as needed.
Doorway Pectoral Stretch
Our lives primarily exist in front of us, whether it is reading a book, eating a meal, using a computer/laptop, driving a car, writing or gaming. As a result, we tend to be in a rounded shoulder position for a large part of the day. Desk job workers are particularly familiar with these conditions. To counteract this, and give the structures stressed by these positions a break, we should do all of the above, as well as the following:
1. Stand in an open doorway while you raise both your arms up to the side so that your shoulders and elbows are at a 90° angle. Rest your palm on the frame of the door;
2. Slowly take a step forward with one foot as you stand upright and feel the stretch on your chest;
3. Hold the position for 10-20 seconds, step back and relax;
4. Repeat this every few hours as needed.
Working from home is great sometimes, but for most of us, it means longer hours, the same or even more stress than when we were in the office, and less activity. Maybe you can’t reduce your workload, but you can reduce the toll on your body by engaging in a few simple exercises to increase flexibility and mobility while reducing discomfort.