There are lots of reasons why working from home is great. From top tier lunches to a commute that consists of rolling out of bed and walking to your desk – we’re getting more time in our favourite place. But our creature comforts are putting us at risk, because do you know who isn’t loving working from home? Our bodies. Long gone are ergonomic chairs and standing desks designed to keep us comfortable and they’ve been replaced by slumping on the sofa, lounging on the bed and curling over the dining room table.
Our backs, necks and shoulders are feeling the pressure (we know you’re rolling your neck right now) and it’s impacting both how we feel and our productivity at work. Depending on where and how you live it might not be easy to transform your workspace so in lieu of fancy equipment and brand new furniture try these simple desk stretches to give your muscles and joints some sweet relief.
Desk Stretches to Ease Discomfort
These four stretches can be done will still sitting at your desk, so they’re easy to move through while you’re listening to that interesting presentation. It’s also important to make sure you’re taking regular breaks away from your desk and incorporating light exercise to your day.
1. Neck Rotations
Let’s start off slow and simple. While sitting at your desk keep your head upright and your shoulders relaxed. Then slowly turn your head from side to side. Try to move your head past your shoulder and as you do you’ll feel the muscle on the opposite side of your neck stretching. Don’t bounce or stretch too far – just a gentle movement will be enough.
2. Sitting Back Extensions
Sit with your back straight and your feet together, firmly on the ground. Then, place your hands on the small of your back for support and lean backwards over them. You should feel a stretch in your lower back. Perfect for after a long day leaning over your keyboard.
3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
You’ll probably know this one from warming up and down when you’re exercising. This simple stretch is great for releasing sore shoulders, whether its because they’ve been lifting weights or hunched over while you type. You can stand or sit for this one. Take one arm in the opposite hand and pull it across your body until you feel a stretch in the shoulder. Try to hold your arm just above the elbow and keep your arm below shoulder height.
4. Trunk Rotation
Plant your feet firmly on the ground, facing forward. Take it in turns to twist your body to the side – if you have a low back chair you may want to place an arm on the back of the chair too. Hold this pose for a few seconds, release and then turn in the opposite direction.
How to Get The Perfect Posture
A good stretching session should ease your tight shoulders, aching back and stiff neck but you can also make small changes in your working-from-home space and posture to make the need for these stretches less likely. When you’re sitting at your desk (and you really should work at a desk, not the sofa) make sure your body is close to the desk, your feet are planted flat on the floor and your screen is at eye level. It can also help to make sure that everything you need to use regularly (mouse, note pad, pen, water) are to hand so you don’t need to stretch to reach them.
When you’re sitting in your desk chair make sure you sit all the way into it, so it supports your back. Try to relax your shoulders and keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle when you type – this might mean setting your laptop or keyboard on top of a stack of books.
Take Breaks, Keep Active
If you have a job that keeps you at a desk and in front of screens for hours at a time it’s important to make sure you’re taking regular breaks, moving your body and exercising. We know it can be hard to find the motivation right now, but if you get up and out regularly your body will thank you for it.