by Caryl Teh

If working from home has your back aching like never before, you’re not alone. It’s a real side-effect of the MCO. So we’d like to share some ways that you can care for your back. Yes, there are many contributing factors like your home office setup & having a good bed, but today we will be focusing on light stretches & strengthening exercises.

Disclaimer: We are not health professionals. If you already have existing back pain, please do consult your doctor before trying any of these stretches or exercises.

Ready to feel younger? Crank up your favourite tune, & let’s begin!

Standing Stretches

1. Overhead Shoulder Stretch

To correct your body back to proper postural alignment while rejuvenating your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

  • Begin with an upright standing position.
  • Raise one arm directly overhead and bend it at the elbow.
  • Hold the elbow with your opposite hand.
  • Pull the upright arm towards the opposite side and hold for 5 seconds. You should be able to feel a stretch along your entire arm.
  • Repeat the stretch on the other side.

2. Standing Side Trunk Stretch

To release all that tension build-up around your spine and obliques (the muscles along the lateral sides of your abdominal wall).

  • Begin with an upright standing position.
  • Raise both your arms towards the ceiling and interlock your fingers, with your palms facing the ceiling.
  • Keeping your elbows straight, slowly bend your trunk to the side.
  • Bend as far as you can and hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch on the other side.

Chair Stretches

3. Seated Figure 4 Stretch

Tight hips can be a real pain in the behind, but the figure 4 stretch can improve flexibility and mobility in your hips, glutes, and piriformis (a small muscle that can become inflamed when your hips are tight).

  • Begin seated on a chair.
  • Cross your legs such that your left ankle is resting on your right knee.
  • Place one hand on the knee of the crossed leg.
  • Gently lean your trunk forward while pressing gently on the crossed knee until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the hip and buttock area.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds.
  • Repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Floor Stretches

4. Seated Stretch

To tone and improve the flexibility of the spinal flexors and obliques so that they can better support the spine.

  • Begin by sitting with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Cross your right leg over your left thigh.
  • Place your right foot right beside the outer side of your left knee.
  • Place your left elbow outside your right knee and right arm on the floor with a straight elbow.
  • Twist your lower trunk to the right as you use your left arm to push your left leg in the opposite direction.
  • Look over your shoulder.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Do the same stretch on the other side.

5. Supine Twist Stretch

To lengthen & relieve pain in the lumbar (lower back to buttock) area; relax hamstrings and thighs; & realign your spine.

  • Make a T position by lying on your back and placing your arms at shoulder level.
  • Bend your right knee and rest your right foot on your left knee.
  • Keeping your shoulders flat, drop your right knee to the left side of your body.
  • Twist your spine and lower back and look at your right fingertips.
  • Relax into the position and let gravity naturally pull your knee down.
  • Hold for 6 to 10 breaths.
  • Stretch the other side.

Strengthening Exercises

Stretching alone cannot solve all your backaches. Exercising your back muscles is also key to prevent injuries.

6. Glute Bridge

The glute bridge focuses on your glutes, quads, and core. It strengthens the lower back while improving hip mobility.

  • Lie down on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Keep your palms face down at your side.
  • Pushing off your feet, lift your lower body until shoulders and knees form a straight line.
  • Squeeze your glutes and engage your core.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds before gently backing down.
  • Repeat 5 times.

7. Planks

Low planks are one of the best exercises to strengthen your back and core muscles.

  • Lie on your stomach on the floor. Your forearms should be flat on the floor with your elbows in line with your shoulders.
  • Lift your whole body until your body forms a straight line (trunk, buttock, and lower limbs).
  • Engage your core, keep your legs firm, and flex your feet.
  • Maintain a neutral head position.
  • Hold for 20 seconds to start before lowering yourself to the floor.
  • As you get stronger, try to hold the position for longer periods.

We hope these exercises help you stay strong while you work from home. Stay safe, & stay healthy!

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