Staying at home may prevent the spread of coronavirus, but it can also be harmful to the body, especially if you are working from a makeshift desk with children or pets running amok. Safer at home laws have forced the vast majority of office workers to work from home, but we’re estimating that most people don’t have ergonomic chairs that support the natural curve of the spine. As a result, most people experience back pain, joint stiffness, or a sore neck.
The problem with working from home is that most people haven’t invested in desks or supportive office chairs. Why would they need to do that? Nobody envisioned that they would be working from home for an indeterminate amount of time! The real problem is poor posture, because slouching creates a c-shaped curve that elongates or shortens neck and middle-back musculature.
You may think to yourself, “Wait a second…I’ve been doing at-home yoga classes every day. Why aren’t they helping me?” The reason for this is because the body is not designed to remain in the same position for hours on end. The yoga is beneficial, but ergonomics consultant Karen Loesing says that the key is to break up the day with stretching, different postures, or walking. You don’t have to contort the body into advanced yogi positions ever hour, but you will benefit from the following stretches.
Overhead Reach & Latissimus Stretch:
If you feel tight along your sides just beneath your armpit, this stretch will be greatly beneficial. It helps to elongate the muscles and open the sides. Sit up straight in a chair and extend your right arm overhead. Slowly reach to the opposite side until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds and then return to center. Repeat on the other side.
That pain in the back of your neck can be very irritating, not to mention it can distract you from your work. Stand up straight with your feet hip-distance apart. Slowly drop your chin to your chest, take a breath, and then tilt your head back until you are looking at the ceiling. Do this 10 times. You can then tilt your head from side to side to stretch the sides of your neck.
Hamstring/Lower Back Stretch:
This stretch helps to loosen any tension areas in the lower back and tightness in the hamstrings. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-distance apart. Hinging at the hips, slowly fold forward until your forehead is by your thighs. Let your hands fall to the floor. If you cannot do that, you can support yourself by putting a chair in front of you or resting your palms on the thighs. Ideally, you should hang in this position for 30 seconds.
Hip And Knee Stretch:
The best way to execute this stretch is to lie on the ground and go through the motion. Alternatively, you can sit in your chair and it will still be beneficial. If you sit in the chair, scoot your butt to the edge and lean your upper back against the backrest. Keep your left leg extended while you hug your right knee into your chest. Hold for 10-30 seconds before switching to the other side.
Shoulder And Pectoral Stretch:
You can do this stretch sitting down, but we advise standing up to do it; because you are always sitting, after all. Stand upright with your feet hip-distance apart. Interlace your fingers behind your back near your tailbone. Push the chest outward, raise the chin, and roll your shoulders back. Hold this pose for 10-30 seconds.
We hope these stretches help to increase mobility and keep you from getting stiff while working from home. Best of luck and stay limber!