29 Oct Protect Your Posture
WORKING REMOTELY is the norm for many of us now, and with it, a rise in stiff necks and lower back pain.
Yes, remote working has a lot of advantages, but a makeshift workspace isn’t one of them. If you’re finding yourself rubbing your back at the end of a long day bent over the kitchen table, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. 70% of people currently working from home claim to experience more aches and pains in the back, neck, shoulders, legs, and joints. Some are taking more painkillers than they normally would ease these aching muscles, making postural problems part of the ‘new normal’. And with a substantial amount of workers expected to remain working from home indefinitely, it’s clear the need to encourage good posture and support has never been more important. Fortunately, help is at hand. Here’s how you can improve your posture and maintain a youthful stance.
Adapting to lockdown
We’ve had to get used to many new situations during the pandemic, but the “at-home office” set-up is one change we haven’t adapted to as well according to British charity Nuffield Health.
The UK’s largest healthcare charity has discovered that a quarter of working people have taken up residence on their sofa with a laptop on their lap and one in four are either sitting on a bed or on the living room floor to work. The majority of people working from home have tried to adapt their working space to make themselves more comfortable with 30% putting a cushion under their bottoms and others putting books, board game boxes, or other household objects underneath their laptop in order to raise it to a more suitable level.
Many of those working from home say they are sitting at their home workstations for longer periods of time than they would do normally at their usual place of work. Take all this into account and it’s not surprising the aches and pains have increased.
Not only can this physical pain cause discomfort, but it can begin to impact people’s mental health, especially as they continue to face uncertainty about when they can return to normal working conditions.
To help maintain good physical health while working from home, we recommend some simple exercises that take only minutes to do. These easy, do-anywhere stretches will encourage good posture and help combat the effects of sitting for long periods. Result!!
Stretch and support
Start your day by stretching out your back. Some stretches to try are:
Rolling like a ball:
Sit at the front of your mat with your feet on the mat and your seat as close to the feet as possible. Round the spine in a C shape and grab your ankles (5 fingers to the front), lift your feet off the mat, and pull your heels to your bottom. Elbows to East and West and the knees shoulder-width apart.
- Without changing the shape of your body, scoop the abs in and roll back to the lower border of your shoulder blades. Scoop the abs more to roll back up to the start position.
- Rock and roll back and forth on your mat, gently massaging your back.
Bend the knees into the chest then bring the knees over the hips and arms anchored by your sides. Inhale to prepare, exhale as you bring both legs, hugging the midline towards the right shoulder so that the left knee is in line with the shoulder. Inhale as you bring the legs back to center and exhale as you twist over to the left shoulder. Keep the shoulders anchored at all times and arms anchored by your side. The movement is initiated by the abdominals. Keep your head in the center initially, then you can rotate your head to the opposite direction of the legs as you progress through the exercises.
Repeat 2 – 3 times on each side.
Side Bend (Mermaid)
Seated on the mat, place your legs in a Z-sit position, where one foot is against the opposite knee.
Hold the upper ankle with your hand on the same side. The other arm lengthens to the ceiling, close to your ears, and with both scapulae anchored.
From the abdominals, lengthen the upper arm more and lengthen both sides of the ribs. Create opposition with the opposite sits bone to the mat.
• Side bend over a bit more, seeking length and space in the bottom ribs.
• Extend both arms to a T shape. Lower the upper arm to the mat in the opposite direction and bring the forearm down and the elbow is directly under the shoulder. Place the palm of the hand down. Lengthen the other arm up and over your head keeping the shoulders into the back, looking to lift and lengthen your spine even more.. Create opposition with the opposite sits bone to the mat.
These moves counter a long period set at a desk, driving, or using a phone. Each one helps counteract a stooping posture.
a. Lie face down, keeping the chin hovering on the mat and a long neck at the back of your head.
b. With your arms by your side, slide your shoulder blades into the back, so your arms and shoulders come off the mat, palms facing down.
c. Lengthen and lift up a little more so only your upper back comes off the mat. Try not to go too high as you want to avoid tapping into your lower back.
d. Hold at the top then lengthen more as you slowly hover back towards the mat.
e. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Go into a quadruped position with your legs hip-width apart and your arms extended, placing the hands on to the mat. The knees are directly below your hips and your wrists are directly below your shoulders. Hold a long spine lengthening through the crown of the head. Take an inhale and prepare for the movement, exhale and tilt your pelvis to your bellybutton, curl your head down to look at your bellybutton, bring the head between the arms, and round your back as if you were an angry cat. Your back should take the Capital C shape. Inhale and use the heels of your hands to drag you back into the initial position.
Repeat 3 – 5 times
Take the same position as the Cat in the initial position. Imagine you have a large tree by your sides, between the shoulders and the hips, right by your ribs. Take an inhale to prepare. As you exhale draw the right shoulder and the right hip to ´hug the tree´ by your side, bringing your vision to your little finger on your right hand. Keep the spine in a neutral position as you inhale to come back to the initial position. Keep the head in the same line as your sternum throughout the movement.
Repeat the movement 3 – 5 times and repeat on the left side for the same amount of repetitions.