Six desk stretches to help ease lower back pain at work
Back pain can be chronic, debilitating and affect almost every aspect of your life. And it can particularly bad for people who work at a desk.
Simple stretching and movement can really do a lot to help alleviate pain.
Last week we shared the best stretches to do at home to help deal with back pain, but these stretches can be done at your desk – and you don’t even need to leave your chair.
Osteopath and founder of the Woodside Clinic, Anisha Joshi, is adamant that spending the majority of your day at a desk is a huge contributor for back pain.
Try Anisha’s stretches next time you’re feeling a bit stiff – and encourage your work pals to do the same.
Posterior shoulder blade stretch
Bring one arm across your chest and use your other arm to stretch/pull it across your body, holding the arm you are stretching above the elbow.
Hold each stretch for five seconds and then repeat on the other arm.
Repeat five times on each arm.
Benefits: This stretches the muscles between the shoulder blades which attach to the top of neck that get tight which can tense up when looking at a screen.
Sit on one hand, palm down, and turn your neck to the other shoulder so you feel a stretch in one side of neck.
Hold each one for 10 seconds and then repeat five times.
Do the same for the other side – sit on the other hand and repeat five times.
Benefits: Reduces tension and neck pain from hunching and looking at screen – all muscles which attach into the shoulder and neck are anatomically connected to the upper back.
Nerve supplies come from the neck to the upper back so restrictions can impact nerve functions which can compromise the upper back and cause pain.
Bring your shoulders up towards the bottom of your ear – hold for a couple of seconds and then release.
Repeat 10 times.
Benefits: Reduces tension and mobilises the shoulder blades and upper back.
Why it’s important to stretch your lower back
‘We were built to hunt for food and not sit for hours and hours, so our bodies are built to move, not be sedentary,
‘It is important to show our muscles the full range of movement. This also increases the blood flow in the body and helps reduce inflammation. Stretching helps oxygen flow around the body and can also help reduce stress.’
Anisha Joshi, founder of the Woodside Clinic
Stand up and interlace your fingers behind back.
Pull your arms backwards away from you to stretch your muscles across the front of your chest.
Benefits: Your pecks are typically hunched when at your desk, so contracting anteriorally when hunching forward.
Think of them as elastic bands from your sternum to anterior parts of shoulder. By stretching them it helps alleviate pain in your upper back.
Middle back rotation
Sit forward on your chair so you are perched on the edge.
Hold your elbows in front of you, so your arms form a square against your body (often known as the Cossack position).
Rotate gently and slowly from left to right 10 times.
Benefits: This rotation stretches your lateral muscles and trapezius muscle, which attaches to your mid back to prevent mid back pain.
Stand up from your desk, giving yourself enough space to bend forwards without banging your head.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and gently rock backwards and forwards from heel to toe until you settle slightly towards the ball of your foot.
With your arms by your side, slightly bend your knees so you are upright, but the knees aren’t locked in a straight position.
Inhale and on your exhaled breath, tuck your chin to your chest and slowly nod the head and roll down towards the floor, one vertebra at a time.
Roll down as far as your comfortably can whilst keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed.
Just hang down there for a few seconds and enjoy the stretch, breathing naturally.
On your exhale breath, slowly roll back up, one vertebra at a time, until you are standing upright.
Repeat three or four times.
Benefits: This stretches the lower back and is good for the core and posture.
Stretching can be really helpful, but it can only do so much. If you are experiencing new, severe or chronic back pain then you should definitely have a chat with your GP.
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