With millions of people working from home, back and shoulder pain are becoming more common as we hunch over our makeshift desks.
Research has shown that poor posture, repetitive motion and staying in the same position for extended periods can cause pain and even musculoskeletal disorders.
Luckily, if you're suffering from desk-related pain, there are several exercises you can work into your daily routine to try and ease any suffering.
If you're pressed for time, you can even do many of these from your chair.
Check your seating position and posture
A lot of desk-related pain is caused by poor posture and desk set-up, so before you begin these exercises, use this checklist and correct if necessary:
- Your chair should be close to your desk
- Your feet should be fully on the floor and not dangling
- The top of your computer screen should be at the same level as your eyes and about an arms-length away from you
- Your hips should be above your knee
- Make sure you're sitting right back in your seat to make sure your back is supported
- The natural curve of your lower back should fit against the curve of the back rest
- The back rest should also be reclined by around 10-15 degrees
- Relax your shoulders and keep your elbows just above the desk at 90 degrees
Take a walk (full body)
The first and most simple "exercise" you can do to mitigate aches and pains from desk work is to get up regularly and take a walk around your home.
Doing this every hour or so can help you regain energy and lift your mood, as well as helping stave off aches and pains from bad posture.
Seated spinal rotation
- While sitting, cross your arms over your chest, grabbing both your shoulders
- Rotate your upper body from your waist, turning gently from right to left as far as is comfortable.
- You should feel a stretch on both sides of your lower back.
- Keeping your head upright with eyes facing forward, gently turn your head from side to side
- As you turn, try to move your head past your shoulder - but don't push it too far
- You should feel the outside muscles on your neck gently stretching
Posterior shoulder stretch
- Hold one of your arms horizontally across your chest
- Put your free hand over your elbow, and pull it into your chest
- You should feel your shoulder stretching gently
- Repeat with other arm
Upper shoulder and neck stretch
- Sit on one of your hands, palm facing upwards
- Turn your head away from the hand you're sitting on, then tilt your head forward, towards your shoulder
- You should feel the muscles in your shoulder and neck stretching
- Repeat for the other side