For better or for worse, working from home has become the “new normal” for many of us, and this could mean longer hours of staring at a screen, and with poor posture. Having bad posture has been the most common causes of headaches and neck pain due to the forward head posture we often have when looking down on our screens.
Fortunately, one of the simple ways to maintain our physical and mental health from home is doing some stretching exercises.
There are various health benefits that come with stretching regularly like keeping your muscles strong and healthy and maintaining smooth joint movements, all of which can prevent potential injuries and strains. With many of us spending extended periods of time at our desk, it wouldn’t hurt to sneak in a quick afternoon stretch.
Here are five simple stretching exercises that you can do while working from home!
Stretching your neck a few times a day will allow you to go about your daily activities with greater ease. If you are at your desk, hunching over your computer for most of the day, chances are, you might experience fatigue and headaches due to excessive screen time.
Neck stretches allow the muscles and joints to lengthen, which can relieve stiffness in the neck area and preserve elasticity in the neck joints.
The following neck stretching exercises can be done in either a sitting or standing position.
The most obvious benefit from doing this stretch is maintaining smooth neck rotation and extension, which allows you to carry out activities of daily living easily such as looking over your shoulder to check for traffic when driving. Neck rotations specifically target the posterior neck muscles and reduce tightness around the area.
To start, keep your back straight to ensure that you’re not in a hunched position. Begin rotating your neck clockwise in circular motions ten times, before rotating counterclockwise and repeating the same steps.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
The upper trapezius stretch (also known as a side neck stretch) can help alleviate headaches as this directly targets the base of your skull.
To do this, use your hand to tilt your head towards one shoulder. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds before moving on to the other side.
Neck Extension Stretch
During this exercise, the stretch will be felt along the front of the neck through the throat. Since this involves looking up, neck extension stretches can help with tension in the muscles in the neck and can also lengthen your spine.
Start by interlacing your fingers and placing them behind your neck. Slowly extend your neck upwards and hold the stretch for ten seconds as well.
The shoulder area can accumulate a significant amount of tension as we go about our daily activities. This can cause negative effects from restricted movement, reduced strength and even aches and pains.
Shoulder stretches are an effective way to loosen up the shoulder muscles after a long day of work. It improves posture and releases throat tension, and increases mobility in the shoulders and upper back.
Furthermore, it can help soften the area of the shoulder joints, collar bone, shoulder blade as well, giving you a free range of movement.
This exercise primarily targets the shoulders, chest, and upper back, and improves overall circulation in these areas.
In a seated or standing position, begin by slowly rolling your shoulders forward in circular motions. In a seated or standing position. Repeat this 10 times before rotating your shoulders backwards.
Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
The cross-body shoulder stretch extends the back of the shoulders and expands your chest, which stretches the overly-tight and tense shoulder muscles.
For this next shoulder stretch, bring your right arm across the front and hook your left arm over it, supporting the right arm above the elbow. Hold this stretch for ten seconds before repeating this for your other arm.
Cow Face Pose
This stretch is a seated posture commonly used in the yoga practise that increases flexibility in the shoulders and lengthens the spine and abdominals as well.
For a deep shoulder stretch, reach one hand behind your neck towards your lower back. Grab the elbow of the same hand with your other hand and push it downwards to allow your arm to stretch for ten seconds.
Repeat the same steps for your other arm.
Anterior Shoulder Stretch
The anterior shoulder stretch is a common exercise used in treating sports injuries including shoulder pains.
With your arms by your side, slowly bring your hands to the back.
Clasp your hands behind your lower back and lift them away from your body for a few seconds. Remember to maintain an upright posture when doing this stretch.
Standing Side Oblique Stretch
The side oblique stretch (or external abdominal stretch) helps to stabilise your spine, expands your lungs and improves rib cage mobility, which allows you to breathe easier.
Doing this side stretch regularly can also treat and prevent mild back pains by stretching out the stiff muscles, which will lead to increased flexibility.
Stand straight and stretch your arms upward while clasping your hands together. Slowly bend your body sideways as far as you can and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Do the same for the other side and repeat this exercise a few times.
Slight discomfort or a pulling sensation is normal, but sharp pains may indicate muscle damage. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need to consult a doctor or a specialist.
This common yoga pose allows you to deeply lengthen your hamstrings while building strength in your arm, shoulders, and legs.
Grab a yoga mat and come onto your hands and knees. Make sure your palms are hip-width apart and lift your knees away from the floor. As you exhale, push your hips upwards and back — you should feel a stretch in your spine.
If you can, straighten your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground, almost creating an inverted ‘V’ shape with your body.
You may struggle with executing this pose initially if you are too focused on straightening your knees or keeping your feet flat.
Do not force your body to go beyond its limits—if you are unable to straighten your knees, you can modify this exercise by bending them slightly.
Another stretching exercise that you can do on your yoga mat is the child’s pose, which acts as a “resting pose” between more difficult poses.
Kneel on your mat with your toes together and knees hip-width apart. As you exhale, lower your head in between your knees and lay your palms face down. It is normal to stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.
This stretch helps to release tension in the back, shoulders, and chest, and even alleviate stress and anxiety.
How Effective Are Stretching Exercises?
Whether it’s at home or outside, stretching every day has been proven to improve our physical and mental well-being. These are simple stretching exercises that will only take a few minutes out of your day, which your body will surely thank you for.
What If Stretching Doesn’t Help Me?
Stretching might not be enough to treat more serious ailments such as chronic body pain.
If you are currently suffering from back, or shoulder pains, you may want to look into a session of consultation with a certified chiropractor.
As the country’s leading chiropractic practice, the friendly folks at Singapore Pain Solutions specialise in a wide range of professional chiropractic treatments with comprehensive solutions for all of your pain and posture problems.
Regardless of how big or small your spinal concern might be, there will always be a solution for it. Don’t compromise your health or suffer in silence — book an appointment and get started with us today.
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