Ease the tension in your neck and shoulders with these quick stretches, which can be done at your desk.
Working from home might be a dream for most, but a nightmare for those who don’t have the luxury of an ergonomic work environment. A lack of work-life balance, long hours of sitting, and an uncomfortable workstation can result in backaches and sprains, along with neck pain and even wrist injuries.
To avoid a sedentary lifestyle, consider weaving in simple stretches and exercises throughout your workday. Here are some easy stretches to improve your mobility, as well as reduce back and neck tension.
Chest and shoulder stretch
To counter the tendency to hunch forward while working on your laptop, incorporate chest and shoulder stretches regularly. When seated or standing, reach both arms behind your back and interlace your fingers together. Then straighten the arms as much as you can and gently lift your arms a few inches away from your lower back until you feel a stretch in your chest for about 10 to 30 seconds. Alternatively, hold a towel or resistance band between your hands and reach them overhead for a shoulder stretch.
Torso stretch and trunk rotation
If you’ve been feeling the tension in your upper and middle back, try trunk rotations and torso stretches. When seated, keep your feet planted firmly on the ground. Bring your right arm to rest on the back of the chair and your left hand onto your right knee, before rotating your upper body towards the right arm. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds before repeating on the other side. For a greater range of motion, try inhaling to lengthen your torso before exhaling to twist.
Pain or aches in the lats can be relieved with an overhead reach. Start in a seated position on your chair, with feet properly grounded. Use your right hand to hold the right edge of your chair to stabilise yourself before reaching your left arm up and overhead towards the right. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds before repeating on the other side. To go deeper, inhale to lengthen the left side of the body before exhaling to stretch over, focusing on opening the top shoulder.
Upper trap and neck stretch
To ease aches in the neck region, try gentle neck rotations. Start in a relaxed seated or standing position and lean your head forward, before bringing the right ear to the right shoulder, dropping the head back, and rotating the head back to the left. Repeat on the other side, then lift the chin back to the starting position. Go for about three to four times in each direction. To stretch the upper trap, gently pull your head towards each shoulder using the help of your hand, until a light stretch is felt. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds before repeating on the other side.