Let’s not get into the fact that it’s been nearly a whole year since lockdown started *shivers*. After 12 months of working from home in makeshift offices, most of us have had some kind of niggling back and or neck pain. Even more so if you’re a millennial whose thirties are fast approaching.
We know how hard it is to stay motivated right now, especially when Netflix is releasing so much binge-worthy content. But keeping on top of your posture has never been more important. So, as we carry on without the ergonomic swivel chair in the office, here are five exercises to improve your posture while working from home.
All hail the plank – the all-in-one posture corrector. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but planks are seriously good for your posture. Not only are they a great core exercise, which is essential for posture, but they are great for your lower back too. If you find yourself slouching in your seat or leaning on one leg when you stand then planks are your new best friend.
Start by lying on the floor and then prop yourself up using your forearms and toes. Keep your legs straight and hips raised so that your body forms a straight, rigid line. Try not to let your hips rise or dip as this will only cause further back pain. Instead, your hips should be, in the words of Theresa May, strong and stable. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
2. Chest stretch
We’re all guilty of this; hunching our shoulders. As we are basically living in a digital world nowadays, we’re glued to desks and phones all day. Over time, this causes us to develop a hunch as we round our shoulders by looking down. This is such a common problem and is a real issue among younger generations.
So, what can you do to stop yourself from rounding your shoulders? Well, make sure to regularly stretch your chest. Stand with your feet hips distance apart and interlock your hands behind you. Pull your shoulders back and down for five to 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
This feels so good on your upper back and is something you can do while waiting for the kettle to boil, for example. Keep this up a few times every day and you’ll notice the pressure across your shoulders disappear.
3. Glute bridges
For many of us, the humble bridge is the bread and butter of those glute gains. But did you know that glue bridges are fabulous for your back too? As we as less active in lockdown, our joints are more likely to seize up or stiffen. To keep your back nice and loose you should head for the floor for some glute bridges.
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Making sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, raise your hips keeping your shoulders on the ground. Lower your hips down and repeat eight times. You can go as slow as you like on this one, but the key is to feel the vertebrae in your back smoothly aligning one by one as you raise your hips up and down. This is basically the adult version of rolling around on the floor to relieve back pain – it’s great.
After a long day sitting at your desk or kitchen table you move … to go and sit somewhere else – probably the sofa. All of this sitting around is doing absolutely no favours for our posture.
So, next time you clock off for the day, give the Cat-Cow stretch a go. Get into all fours on the floor with your hand's shoulder-width apart and your knees hips distance apart. As you inhale, drop your stomach towards the floor so that you are arching your back and looking up. As you exhale, reverse that position and pull your core in so that your spine is arching towards the ceiling. Repeat this as many times as you need to get that deep stretch across your middle and lower back.
5. Pigeon pose
Whoever said that yoga was relaxing was lying. If you’re not naturally bendy, yoga is a full-on workout – don’t be fooled by the candles and spa music.
However, when it comes to exercises to improve your posture, you can’t get much better than yoga poses. While not all of us are up to a whole class, taking a few of the stretches and doing them every day is more than enough to keep your muscles and bones healthy and happy.
The pigeon post is the ultimate hip opener. So, if you find it hard to get comfy while sat in a chair all day, try giving this exercise a go. Come down on to all fours on the floor. Bend your right knee towards your right hand and angle your shin towards your left hand. You’re sort of folding and bending your leg underneath you. Slide your left leg back so that, if possible, your thigh is resting on the floor. Gently lower your torso down to rest on your inner right thigh and feel the burn.
You should get a satisfying sensation across the back on your bent leg that goes from the glutes all the way down the hamstrings. Slowly manoeuvre out of the position and repeat with the alternate leg.
Will you be trying any of these exercises to improve your posture? We know we will be giving all of these a go, that’s for sure!