Prevent neck and shoulder pain when working from home
Position Yourself for Success
With working from home now the new normal, many of us are guilty of siting in one place for hours on end. When we’re working from home we naturally take fewer breaks, but unless you move around regularly, remaining in any one posture for a prolonged period of time could end up causing you aches and pains.
Research suggests that during the pandemic neck pain has increased by 50% in at home workers. It’s one thing balancing a laptop on your knees to watch a quick episode on Netflix – it’s another spending your entire working day in this position. Similarly, lower back pain, has also increased. This is often from being in a seated position for a long period of time, and not getting the best back support from our chairs.
Is sitting the new smoking?
Let’s face it – the human body wasn’t designed to sit for long periods of time. We are designed to move. In an LA Times interview, James Levine, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic dramatically proclaimed ‘Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death’. Subsequent studies have debunked this social media fuelled myth, but nonetheless research suggests that those who sit less than four hours a day have fewer adverse health effects compared to those who sit for more than eight hours.
Given that many of us sit now for a living… what can we do about it? Why not try these simple desk stretches to help iron out neck and back pain, and give you that energetic boost you need to increase your productivity.
1. Neck stretch
Duration: 10 seconds each side
Staring at computer screen, looking down and not moving your neck can result in stress, making you more susceptible to neck cramps and pain in the upper back. To help release this tension, hold onto the side of your chair seat with one hand, then bend your neck sideways and feel the stretch into your neck muscles on the opposite side. Use the other hand on top of your head to gently enhance the stretch. Hold for 10 seconds on each side and repeat 3 times.
2. Shoulder Stretch
Duration: 10-20 seconds
Bad sitting posture can result in tight chest muscles and rounded shoulders. This in turn can cause muscular pain in the upper back whilst causing hunched up and tense shoulders. To stretch them out, try to sit as straight as you can, then push your arms back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this for 10-20 seconds, feeling muscles in your upper back engage.
3. Lower back stretch
Duration: 10-20 seconds
Our backs don’t like to be held in the same position for long periods of time, especially when sitting. This can not only have a huge impact on your back and hip muscles, but can result in compressed spinal discs too - and worst still a trapped nerve.
To avoid this, stand up straight, take a deep breath, then bend forward at the hips and try to touch your toes without bending your knees. Hold for few moments and come back up. If this feels too much you can also perform this stretch whilst sitting on your chair by simply folding your upper body and arms forwards between your legs and holding for 10-20 seconds.
4. Leg and Glute Stretch
Duration: 30 seconds each leg
Sitting for too long tightens and contracts the hamstrings. This lack of movement causes tightness, which can result in poor blood flow, which can lead to swollen ankles and lower legs.
To help get the lower body moving and lubricate your joints, stand up and perform 10 leg swings on each leg. Once done, sit back down and stretch the glutes by crossing your legs and placing your ankle on your opposite knee. Once you feel a little stretch, take a deep breath in and bend forwards from your pelvis keeping your chest open and head facing forwards. You should feel a stretch deep into your glutes.
To increase the stretch even more push down on upper knee gradually.