Working from Home? Stiff Neck? Sore Back?

Over the last few months patients of mine have reported an increase in the time that they spend sitting…whether it be because they are recently working from home, not heading out and about on weekends or due to business lockdowns. This has resulted in aches and pains similarly experienced to those who work at a desk all day and occasionally includes an around trip of up to 2 hours travel or even drivers who are tasked with travelling long hours in a seated position.

To combat these aches and pains we need to ensure we maintain our mobility, take a break to have a walk, stretch and reset ideally at least once every hour for 5 minutes. Common areas of the body affected by prolonged sitting can be the hip flexor muscles which can cause low back, hip and mid back pain as well as the muscles which pull our shoulders forward, leading to neck and shoulder pain as well as headaches.

Some common ways to reduce the chance of these muscles being affected and reducing the likelihood of experiencing these pains are shown below:

Elevated pigeon stretch – 3 Sets / 1 Rep / 45s hold

Place your affected leg on a table or bed in front of you with the knee turned out.
Lean forwards, lacing your elbows on the table.
You will feel a stretch through the buttocks of this leg.

Pilates arm opening – 3 Sets / 15 Reps

Lie on your side with your head resting on a small cushion.
Bend both legs at a 45 degree angle to the hips, keeping them together and straighten your arms out in front of your body with one arm on top of the other.
INHALE: raise your top arm up towards the ceiling, followed by your head and upper body.
EXHALE: continue rotating the spine, as you lower your straight arm further down.
INHALE: bring your arm back, reaching to the ceiling.
EXHALE: lower your arm down to the starting position.
Allow your head to follow the movement of your arm.
Hold the stretch and engage your abdominals as you bring your arm back over and down to the starting position.

Pec stretch – mid fibres with pec minor – 3 Sets / 1 Rep / 45s hold

Stand with your affected side closest to the wall and place your forearm down a door frame around shoulder height.
Keeping your forearm on the wall, take one step forward on the leg closest to the wall and slowly rotate your chest away until you feel a stretch across your chest.
Be careful not to allow the shoulder to hunch.
Hold this position.

Cervical AROM – 3 Sets / 10 Reps

Start in a seated position looking straight forward.
Look down towards the floor, look up towards the ceiling.
Look over your right shoulder, look over the left shoulder.
Take your right ear to your right shoulder, take your left ear to your left shoulder.
Keep your shoulders down at all time.

Hip flexor stretch in stand – 3 Sets / 1 Rep / 45s hold

Start in a standing position.
Move your affected leg one pace backwards.
Hold on to a support if you feel you need it.
Keeping your feet in this position, drive your hips forward and lift up your chest.
It is OK for the back knee to bend a little and for your heel to come up off the floor.
You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.
Hold this position and then return to the starting position and then relax.

Michael Pasqualin
Principal Physiotherapist

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