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Get moving: stretches to do when working at home

Posted: 12pm 17 Apr 2020

You’ve perfected the home office setup, now let’s take a look at some simple stretches and exercises you can do to help ease those inevitable aches and pains.

Director of Scarborough Physio and Health, Nick Schuster, says that even if you have the ideal computer and work station, you still risk getting a sore neck and back.

He recommends changing position every 30 minutes, and to get up out of your chair at least every hour.

Plus, there are some simple exercises you can try at home which are designed to activate or contract your back muscles, promote better posture, and relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.

Simple exercises for the back, neck and hips

Bird Dog

For this one, you first get down on the ground on all fours (this is called the tabletop position). Lift one arm out in front while gently kicking your opposite leg out the back. Hold this position for ten seconds, and repeat a handful of times on each side.

Remember to maintain even breathing, keep your spine neutral, and engage your core to prevent your back from sagging.

Neck Stretches

Many of us tend to drop our head forward when working on the computer (especially if we don’t have the correct desk or chair height) which can put undue stress on neck muscles.

Here are three easy neck stretches you can do in the comfort of your home. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat if necessary.

  1. Take your ear to your shoulder (same side – i.e. left ear to left shoulder) by gently pulling your head with your hand. Ensure you are sitting up straight and shoulders are back. Repeat on the other side. This one is good to stretch your upper trap (trapezius) muscle
  2. Place one hand on the back of your head, and gently put your chin to your chest. This will stretch the back of your neck
  3. Lower your chin so that your nose is pointing down toward the right armpit. Wrap your right arm over the top of the head and gently press down. Repeat on the other side. This stretch targets the ‘levator scapulae’, which is the muscle that shrugs your shoulders.

Hips & Hamstrings

‘But I’m on the phone – I can’t leave my desk to stretch!’ We hear you. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to get up every half hour or an hour and stretch your legs.

A simple thing you can do, even when on the phone, is to stand up. Not only is changing position advisable when sitting for long periods, but the simple movement will give your hip flexors (muscles towards the front of the hip) and hamstrings a little break. After all, we know what they say about missing leg day…

A breath of fresh air

Finally, it’s only natural to feel a little cooped up right now. So, make sure you take a break from the screen, get some fresh air, and keep moving!

Tips and techniques designed just for you

For those wanting more specific advice and techniques for your individual situation, contact the friendly team Scarborough Physio and Health on info@scarboroughphysiotherapy.com.au.

Or, check out Scarborough Physio and Health on Facebook, where they regularly post exercise videos to help clients and the community.

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