Over recent months, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers have found themselves thrown into working from home on a permanent basis. For some, this has provided an increased work life balance, however, not having a suitable ergonomic set-up has in many instances been a major contributing factor to musculoskeletal discomfort. Since returning to work as a massage therapist, I have seen a large increase in cases at the clinic of aches and pains due to sitting at a laptop for many hours confined to the dining room table.
Even with a more optimised set-up at home, there has been an increase in the use of video meetings. This is, perhaps, a great leap forward in the reduction of travel, however, this provides even less opportunity to move around and our gaze remains fixed once again at our screens.
I would like to share 2 stretches which I have found useful to help alleviate common areas of discomfort in between the shoulder blades, across the top of the shoulders and the back of the neck.
This is my absolute favourite and I have shared it with many people over the years. The aim of the stretch is to encourage the shoulders to open and reverse the posture that we often adopt when we are hunched in front of a screen.
Stand in front of a doorframe with the door open, feet in line with the doorframe, place your hands either side of the doorframe about ear height and gently lean forward. You should feel a nice stretch across the front of the shoulders. You can try taking your hands a little higher and leaning forwards again. Hold the stretch for about 15 seconds. If you have been at the computer for a long period of time I would recommend doing this stretch regularly when you give yourself a well earned break from the screen – waiting for the kettle to boil is an ideal opportunity.
This one can be done at any time – at your desk (or whatever you may be using as a desk), sitting in traffic or watching TV.
Gently draw your head backwards. I find it useful to imagine your chin following a soft curve as your draw the head backwards. Soften the jaw. You can gently rock the head backwards and forwards sliding the chin along the imaginary curve. This encourages some gentle movement into the neck and can help to encourage the head and neck into a more neutral position.
Alongside these 2 stretches, try and move regularly. Ideally get up and move around but if you are tied to your desk (or dining table) then try to encourage some movement in your muscles periodically by shrugging your shoulders or turning your head gently from side to side.
I hope you find these tips useful. Stay safe.