With everyone working at home these days many more people are working at their laptop for hours on end. This whole shift to the work at home lifestyle is taking a big toll on our posture and our affected areas of pain.
Take a look at this table from study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health:
Research is telling us that on average people are feeling aches and pains all over the body, only having people that are pain free being on a downtrend.
With that in mind it’s important to consider contributing factors to this increase in pain, considering that many are working from their laptops posture while working the typical 9-5 job is important to consider.
We already know that working at a desk for long periods of time has an effect on your back which is why products like standing desks have become popular, but what else can you do to minimize the risk of pain from sitting hunched over your computer all day?
Stretches to relieve pain from working at your desk
Feeling a bit of pain in your neck? Try doing neck rolls, it's one of the most familiar stretches and can do wonders if you're feeling stiffness in your neck. Simply roll your neck in a circular motion, go slowly to prevent injury and if pops happen that’s totally normal but don’t try to force pops.
Instructions: Do 20 rolls, 3-4 sets in each direction
Doing neck rolls brings blood flow to your neck which will rehydrate intervertebral discs, the disc between your vertebrae and spine.
When working at a desk for a long period of time, our shoulders tend to move forward leading to rounded shoulders causing pain in the neck and lower back. Doing shoulder rolls is a great way to improve your posture and relieve pain if you tend to lean forward hunched over your computer screen.
Instructions: In a circular motion pull your shoulder blades up, then back, then down. Repeat 20 times in 3-4 sets. Then reverse the motion to do a forward rotation: Moving the shoulder blades back, up then forward, just be sure when rolling forward to put more emphasis on rolling the shoulder blades back comparatively.
Shoulder / Chest Opener
When you work at a desk for a long period of time your shoulders, chest and back can start to feel stiff causing pain and strain in your posture.
Instructions: Either use a towel to hold on to or plant your hands on your desk and move your body away from your desk behind you until your arms become straight. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds for 4-5 sets.
Spine twists will relieve stress in the neck, shoulders and back.
Instructions: Grab the back of your chair or thigh as you rotate your chest 180 degrees while keeping your lower body straight and in front of you. Hold for about 5-6 seconds and repeat on each side for 3 sets.
Over long periods of sitting, your hamstrings will shorten. This stretch will help elongate your hamstrings, relieve pain in your lower back and anterior pelvic tilt.
Instructions: While you can perform this stretch standing up as pictured, we recommend to place your heel on the chair you were sitting in and bend over leaning towards the foot you placed on the chair. The closer you move toward your foot the deeper the stretch you will feel in your hamstrings and back. For an extra stretch you can even point your toes upward towards your chest to increase flexion and will feel the stretch in your calves as well. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds for 4-5 sets.
Another word of advice for pain relief for working at a desk for long periods of time
Be sure to get up and move around to get the blood flowing, to prevent posture issues and pain its recommended that you don’t stay still for too long.
According to the Mayo Clinic a compilation of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.
While alarming as this may sound, you can mitigate your health risk of being too sedentary by making sure you get up and move around every 30 minutes, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes.