With so many of us now working from home, it’s vital to ensure we care for our bodies when working remotely. Without things like extra monitors and ergonomic chairs, it’s almost too easy to become a victim to effects such as stiff shoulders and back pain (to name a few!). But, never fear! We have put together a list of tips and exercises to combat those work-from-home aches and pains.
Your Home Office: Set Yourself Up for Success
While it’s not ideal working from a laptop and probably in the living room, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when setting up a remote workspace:
- Use a chair and table or desk at a height where your forearms and wrists are parallel to the floor.
- Make sure the top of your computer screen is eye level and about an arm’s length away from you.
- Check to ensure your knees are level or lower than your hips.
Checked all of these boxes? You’re good to go!
Break Time: Get Moving!
It’s essential to take breaks throughout the workday to get your body moving and give your eyes a rest from the computer screen. Plan to take a short break (about 5 minutes) at least once per hour, if not twice per hour. What kind of moving should you do? A brisk walk around the block outside is an excellent way for some fresh air and mental clarity. Mixing in yoga movements and stretching is also a fantastic way to get the body moving. We have outlined some great movements below to try!
Cobra Pose: Simple Back Extension
Lying down on your front, bring your hands level with your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your body. Your feet should be together, but if you have lower back problems, feel free to put them slightly wider than hip distance. While engaging your core muscles, take a deep breath inwards and lift your chest into Cobra pose (pictured to the left). Think about this movement coming from your upper back muscles rather than pushing the weight into your hands. Keep your neck relaxed, exhale, and slowly release your body back down to the floor. Repeat at least two more times for a nice lower backstretch.
Twists: Spinal Mobility
Ease back pain by doing twists to keep your spine mobile – you can do this movement from a chair, but it’s ideal to get up and do these on a yoga mat. While in a seated position with your legs out, bring your right knee over your left side and gently look over your right shoulder. Take a few deep breaths while holding the position and then change sides (left knee over the right side). Repeat as many times as you’d like!
Pigeon Pose: Lower Back and Hips
Without proper chair support, it’s common to experience tightness in your hips and lower back. Prevent your hips and lower back from seizing up by doing a yoga movement such as the Pigeon Pose (pictured to the right). Starting on all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist. Slide your left leg back and point your toes, so your heel is pointing up at the ceiling. As you inhale, gently lengthen your spine, draw your navel in and open your chest. Take a few breaths here before coming out of the pose.
These are just a few of the many movements you can do to release pain and tension in your body during work breaks. There are plenty of yoga resources and materials to further your practice.