Working from home is looking to become the new normal for those who can do their jobs digitally over the next few weeks. But swapping your usual work station for the kitchen table, sofa, or (dare we say it) bed, can be a fast track ticket towards neck and back ache.
“The problem is sitting slouched over in a c-shaped posture while being stressed out about the universe falling apart,” physiotherapist Sammy Margo tells HuffPost UK. “It means that all of your neck musculature and your middle-back musculature becomes either long and stretched, or short and tight.”
To reduce the impact of these kinds of aches and pains during the coronavirus outbreak, Margo recommends a set of five simple stretches every two hours.
You don’t need to be a practised yogi or have vast athletic ability to reap the rewards – small, focused movements targeted to the problem areas will have the biggest impact.
“What you’re seeking to do is rectify your posture to make sure that you are going through the full excursion of your muscles, joints and ligaments,” says Margo.
The five stretches she recommends completing throughout the day, holding each for a few seconds, are:
1. Put your chin down to your chest and look up to the ceiling.
2. Slowly turn your head to the left, then turn your head to the right.
3. Put your left ear to your left shoulder, then your right ear to your right shoulder.
4. Interlink your fingers in front of you and stretch forwards.
5. Interlink your fingers behind your back and stretch backwards.
While moving throughout the day is good practice in general, optimising your work from home set-up will mitigate the need for pain-relieving stretches.
Use a desk or table where possible, instead of giving into the lure of your bed – it really will help. As Ciaran Keen, an osteopath at the Centre for Health and Human Performance, previously told HuffPost UK, it’s best to sit close to the table with your screen at eye level and your mid-back supported.
Sammy Margo’s simple nudge for sitting better is “BBC”, which stands for “bum back (in) chair”. Remembering this should stop you slumping forwards or to one side as frequently.
She adds that looking after your general health – sleeping well, eating healthy food and exercising where possible – will also help to keep you feeling agile during this extended working from home period.