30 Apr 2020

Stretches to keep supple, whilst working from home

My husband has been complaining of neck ache and pain in his shoulder.

Obviously he hasn’t injured himself through poor exercise technique or from going too heavy at the gym (the usual reason with him). However we both realised that the new working from home regime might well be the culprit.

Many of us are beginning to feel the real effects of staying at home for so long. Working from makeshift kitchen table desks, not getting in our regular gym routines and foregoing proper recovery is taking its toll on our mental and physical health.

We need flexibility to maintain a range of motion in our joints. Without that, we’re at a high risk of joint pain, muscle strains and muscle damage, especially if you’re going to be sedentary, sitting at a desk for a long period of time, not being able to move and be active.

So to help I thought it might be useful to set out some stretches which can easily be done at any time of the day:
1. NECK ROLL

Looking at a computer screen all day, especially if it's not positioned properly, can be – well – a literal pain in the neck. So much so that it can cause long term issues and not just neck- but also headaches. Apart from making sure that the hardware is placed in a position that's best for your neck, you should also move that neck around every now and then to make sure it's staying flexible (and pain free).

Neck rolls are pretty straightforward: tilt your head forward as far as you can (comfortably) and move it around, with the tip of your head doing a full circle around before returning to the starting position. Do a 3-5 circles each time.

2. BACKWARD/FORWARD SHOULDER ROLLS

Moving further down, let's focus on the shoulders. Dropping your shoulders as you sit can make you slouch, which will make your back hurt quite a lot. Being mindful about the way you sit and opening your chest/shoulders can help alleviate upper back pain sooner. Shoulder rolls are amazing stretching exercises because they can be done without even lifting up your hands from the keyboard.

Of course, it's best to stand up from the computer and have a bit of a walk around but if you ever notice you started slouching as you sit, feel free to do some backward shoulder rolls.

First, lift your shoulders up as high as you can: just like how you would if you wanted to give someone the biggest shrug in the world. Then, slowly roll your shoulders back and around, pushing them to their maximum position in each direction. Once you've done 3-5 circles, change the direction and roll the the shoulders forward. Do forward shoulder rolls for 3-5 times.

3. CHEST OPENER

This is another upper back/shoulder stretch to help you alleviate the effect of slouching. Doing chest openers can also improve shoulder flexibility which is vastly ignored by adults in general. Join your hands behind your lower back which in turn will open up your chest and shoulders. Without bending your elbows, try bringing your hands up as high as you comfortably can. If you are standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart and and bend your hips forward as you bring your arms up. That would effectively stretch your lower back too!

4. SPINE TWIST

Spine mobility is largely ignored in general which is sad because a mobile spine can mean the world in terms of general comfort levels. Our spines are made out of individual vertebrae, not a solid pole, but given how well people can twist their spines you would think it was the latter that's true.

If you are sitting on a chair, turn your shoulders around and grab the top of the chair with your hands and pull your shoulders around your back as far as you can without moving your hips. Hold this position for five seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the other way around.

I hope that helps!

Lauren Aizen's blog posts

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