Ove the past 20 months, there has been a boom in telecommuting and working from home. This in turn has caused a great deal of stiff necks and aching low backs. Thankfully, there are some great stretches you can do to help overcome any ergonomic challenges you encounter from your home office.
Considering that low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability, it’s the obvious place to start to keep you feeling your best. Spending 15 minutes to take care of ourselves by doing a few key stretches and warmups daily will not only reduce your back pain but will invigorate you for the day ahead.
If you want a nice, relaxing stretch, this is the one to do! It is a great stretch for the muscles along the spine called the erector spinae. Kneel with both knees directly under your hips with your toes touching. Widen your hips and engage your core. While keeping your fingers facing forward, rock your glutes down toward your heels and exhale. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat 5 times.
Back extension or cobra pose:
This stretch does wonders for disc problems. While laying on your stomach, raise your upper body while allowing your midsection to stay on the ground. The trick is to continue stretching upward until there is slight discomfort and stopping there. This should be done for 30 seconds, then 30 seconds of rest and repeat for 5 to 10 repetitions.
Arms behind the back stretch:
Almost everyone would like to improve their posture. By stretching the pectorals and front of the shoulder, it will help with that and allow you to take deeper breaths by opening up your rib cage. To perform this stretch, interlace your fingers behind your back then slowly and smoothly raise your hands behind you as far as possible making sure to not bend forward; hold the top position for 15 seconds.
Stand facing a doorway with both arms up at the sides, bent at 90 degrees and palms touching the door frame. You should feel a slight stretch at the pectorals. Lean forward and look up. This is great at countering the hours of slouching caused by sitting at a desk.
Stand upright looking straight ahead and shrug your shoulders up and hold them there for 5 seconds. Then squeeze your shoulder blades back and together, holding them there for 5 seconds. Next, pull your shoulder blades down as if putting them in your back pocket. Then relax and return to the starting position.
Isometric neck extension:
Sit upright with your eyes straight ahead and chin level with the floor. Clasp your hands together and place them behind your head. Next, press the back of your head into your palms while your palms provide resistance. Hold the position for 5 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. This is typically performed for 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
Sit in an upright position with your hands clasped behind your back. Lower your left shoulder and tilt your head to the right. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Perform this stretch on your opposite side, repeating three times on each side.
All fours to heels:
Kneel on the floor on all fours with back flat and your palms flat on the floor under your shoulders. Shift your weight back and try to sit on your heels while maintaining a flat back. Hold this position for six seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
Lie on your back with both of your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Then lift your hips off the floor as high as you can and hold for 5 seconds while engaging your glutes. This is a great glute exercise and really does a great job of engaging your core.
Get on the floor on all fours, placing your hands under your shoulders and the knees under your hips. Let your head drop down while simultaneously tucking your hips under and raising the middle of your back as high as you can. Try to create a gradual curve of the back towards the ceiling and hold the position for five seconds. This stretch is typically repeated 10 times.
Get in the same starting position as cat stretch but raise your head and hips up and allow your stomach to fall to the floor. Just like cat stretch, you want to hold the position for five seconds and repeat 10 times.
By performing these simple stretches, you are taking steps to a happier and healthier you. If you have questions or concerns about starting a stretching or exercise routine, please contact my office or your physician.