We’re deep into quarantine, and more people are working from home (or pretending to work from home while making grilled cheese sandwiches) than ever before. While some had the time and money to curate a productive work environment in their home, other people are still plopping down on the couch every day with their laptops and coffee cups.
Months of slouched, cushion-based work days really takes a toll on the health of your back (and those grilled cheeses aren’t helping anything, either). We’re here to share some helpful stretches to keep your body limber and to also alleviate some of your work-from-home pain.
When working from home, check your posture.
Even if you have the most expensive work chair or an awesome sit/stand desk, any extended period of time spent in a stationary position is going to cause problems. Gravity is not your friend. Stationary positions cause compression of the discs in your back, and over time, that compression leads to pain and nerve damage.
When you do need to sit, good posture makes a huge difference.
“When you sit up straight, your spine is in its proper alignment,” a representative of AICA Orthopedics told Urbo. “A properly aligned spine helps keep your nervous system working at its best and your back muscles will support your spine.”
Use these stretches to relieve work-from-home back pain.
In addition to working on your posture, you should also get up and move around throughout your workday. Walking around and doing stretches help reset your body and helps decompress the discs in your back. Here are some stretches suggested and explained by the AICA team.
Cat and Cow
This is a great stretch to start with.
“Rest comfortably on your hands and knees, while keeping your back straight,” says the AICA representative. “Slowly breathe out and, at the same time, arch your spine while tightening your core muscles.”
Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds before moving back to a flat back position.
Knees to Chest
This is another simple stretch, but the key is to go slow.
“You can perform this stretch by lying on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you,” says the AICA. “Gradually raise your right knee and press it against your chest while holding your arms around your thigh.” Hold this position for 40 seconds on each side.
Cross Body Knee Twists
Twists are great for relaxing hip muscles or for impressing old people at a VFW dance.
“Remain on your back with your legs resting in front of you. Gradually lift one of your knees to your chest and extend it over the opposite side of your body,” instructs AICA. “You will know that this is working correctly when you feel the back of your thigh and glutes stretching.”
Hold for 40 seconds for each side.
Child’s pose is the perfect final stretch, and anyone with a background in yoga will recognize it. This pose is a deep resting stretch used for grounding and centering of the body.
You start on your hands and knees, but “keep your hips between your feet and reach your arms out in front of you. Allow yourself to rest comfortably in this position for 20 seconds or so before returning to the beginning.”
Regular stretching makes a difference, but don’t neglect our first advice: Move. The best way to stop back pain from affecting your work-from-home life is to stop it from occurring in the first place.