6 Exercises To Help Survive Working From Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many of us work, causing most of us to create makeshift offices in a bedroom or work from the kitchen table on our laptops. While the convenience of working from home is undeniable, many people complain that they are suffering from neck, back, and hip pain. The pain caused by working in an inappropriate workspace can make you wonder “What am I doing wrong?”

You can combat the pain caused by working at home. Start by setting up a work area that encourages good posture. Sitting in a hard, straight-backed dining chair can be very hard on your posture. Likewise, your bed or a soft couch can actually contribute to your pain, especially over the long-term. Find a chair that is comfortable and supports your lower back.

Your chair should allow you to sit on the pointy muscles under your glutes – the sit bones – and your feet should rest flat on the floor to prevent pressure against the nerves in the backs of your thighs. Your knees should be at hip level and parallel to the floor so that your lower back, hips, and thighs create an “L” shape. Keep your core tight – think of pulling your navel in toward your spine – to help support your lower back.

Make sure the table or desk your work at is also the proper height. Your neck should be straight while you look at your screen. If you are looking down at your screen, put your screen on a stack of books so you can look straight ahead. If you are looking up and craning your neck to see, lower your screen.

You can also prevent pain by performing a little “preventive physical therapy” at home. Use these six exercises to get moving and relieve the pain of working from home:

Walk it off. Set an alarm to remind you to get up and move every hour while you are working. A quick walk around the block can not only help loosen up your muscles and get the blood flowing, it can also refresh your mind and help you concentrate when you start work again.

Stretch your hamstrings. Tightness in the backs of your thighs can cause pain and pressure in your lower back, so take a few minutes at least 2-3 times a day to stretch the back of your legs.

Rotate your neck. Stiff muscles in the neck can create pressure in the cervical vertebrae and create sharp pain in the neck and shoulders. Slowly drop your chin down toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch at the base of the neck then slowly look up to the ceiling. Follow up by slowly moving your head side to side like you are saying “no”. Finish up with a slow, circular rotation – imagine you are drawing a circle with your chin and do this in both directions. It’s a good idea to do this at least once every hour.

Squeeze your shoulders together and down. Press your shoulder blades together toward the middle of your back and pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Imagine that you are trying to stuff your elbows into the back pockets of your jeans. Hold this for a few seconds and release to relieve tension in your upper back. Remember to keep your shoulders down and back as your work, as well.

Keep your abs strong. Even though your back should be supported by a good chair, remember to pull your navel in toward your spine to improve your posture and support your lower back. Try doing a quick set of 10-20 crunches when you take breaks to help build and maintain core strength.

Extend the spine. Stand up and gently lean back, arching your back, for about 15-20 seconds. Yoga can be very helpful, too. Try holding a different yoga pose every hour or so for 1 minute. Not only will the practice loosen your tight muscles and help you to stretch your spine, it will also help to keep you calm and focused throughout the day.

If you are struggling with persistent back, neck or joint pain, talk to your doctor or Contact Move Better Physical Therapy or call us at 434-817-0980 to discuss if physical therapy could be the right solution.