With so many of us working from home during lockdown, there are an increasing number of people coming to the clinic for back and neck pain. This can happen due to a poor ergonomic set up at home, having to remain in prolonged sitting or standing positions, certain lifestyle habits, and specific conditions/injuries. Here are 5 useful stretches you can do throughout the day to keep moving and to stay pain-free.
Upper trapezius stretch
Sit or stand upright with shoulders relaxed and hands by side. Tilt head to one side until you feel a pull on the opposite side of your neck. Hold for 15 seconds, return to starting position and repeat 4 more times. Repeat on the other side.
Lie on your side with knees bent and arms stretched out in front of you. Place arms and hands together, and lift your top arm over towards the other side. Slowly twist your upper back to follow the arm as far as you can comfortable. You should feel a stretch across your chest and upper back. Return arm to the side, and repeat 10–15 times as able. Perform this movement on the other side.
Start on all fours. Ensure shoulders are directly over hands, and hips are directly over knees. Keep elbows straight and back in a neutral position. Slowly bring head to look up and drop belly down towards ground, arching back. Now push through hands and knees, and draw belly up to the ceiling, rounding your back and looking down. Repeat this movement 10 times.
Start on all fours. Sit back on heels and place hands on ground, slowly walking hands forwards and allow your back to fold forwards with this movement. Only go as far as you can comfortably, resting stomach on top of thighs. Take deep breaths in and out, focusing on sinking down towards the ground, sitting back onto your heels and dropping upper back down between shoulder blades. Stay in this position for 1 minute.
Knee to chest
Lying flat on back with both legs stretched out. Bring one knee up towards your chest, and place hands around knee, or back of thigh. Focus on deep breathing and relaxing muscles down towards the ground. Hold for about 1 minute, and repeat on the other leg.
Pilates is a great tool for managing injuries, conditions, and overall fitness. Below are a few core and leg exercises to get you started at home without a reformer.
Single leg stretch
Lie on back with neutral spine and knees bent, feet flat on ground. Slowly straighten one leg, and return to starting position.
Ensure hips stay level, and that you do not brace throughout this exercise. Continue on this leg, and repeat on the other side.
Lie on back with neutral spine, knees/feet in table top, and arms straight up towards ceiling. Straighten one knee and bring opposite arm up towards head at the same time. Bring knee and arm back to starting position. Now straight the other knee and bring opposite arm towards the head, and return to starting position.
Keep hips still and maintain a neutral spine. Continue with alternating limbs.
Lie on back with neutral spine and knees bent, feet flat on ground. Digging your heels down, tuck your tail in and curl spine to lift hips up. Lift as high as you can without overextending your back. Slowly lower hips back down, curling spine from top to bottom. Repeat.
Starting on all fours with a neutral spine. Shoulders over hands, hips over knees. Slowly straighten on knee and lift the opposite arm forwards. Make sure the hips and shoulders stay level, and that spine remains neutral. Bring knee and arm back to starting position, and complete the same movement with the opposite limbs. Continue. Ensure that you’re not bracing.
Standing with feet hip-width apart, gently bending knees and tipping hip backwards. Hands on hips. With this as your starting position, tap one foot backwards and return next to other foot. Make sure you keep the rest of the body still as you move the single leg. Repeat, and perform this on the other side too.
While these exercises are great for pain relief, improving mobility and strengthening the body, if you are dealing with a specific injury/condition or would like a tailored approach in managing your pain, please book an appointment with our physiotherapists to have a better look at what would be appropriate for you. Our physiotherapists are also available via Telehealth to help set you up correctly at your home work station. Call us on 03 98192827 to discuss.