For most of us, spending over a year working from home has taken its toll on our lives in more ways than one. Working longer hours and sharing fewer (real-life) social moments with colleagues are some of the most familiar changes that spring to mind.
But, working from home in make-shift setups and leading increasingly device-centric lifestyles has also made way for another unwelcome change to creep in: bad posture habits.
Slouching over our screens, leaning on our desks, resting our heads on our hands, and working from the couch or bed are all causing harm to the body.
If left unchecked, this could lead to potentially long-term poor posture-related aches and pains in the body, as well as headaches, joint aches, and muscle aches.
To break up your working-from-home day and to stop poor posture from sticking, some simple posture-improving stretches can be done easily and safely from the comfort of your desk daily. I recommend these to all of my clients alongside taking regular standing breaks and exercising often.
In no time, you will start to see and feel the benefits of performing these moves. The more you do them, the stronger the muscles associated with prompting proper posture will become, eventually making correct posture your natural physical state!
Follow these three simple steps for better posture.
1. Pectoral stretch
How to: For the first move, you will interlock your hands behind your back, pull your hands towards the ground and squeeze the shoulder blades together for five seconds with the body in an upright position. This stretches out the pectoral muscles opening up the chest cavity, as well as strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades that are, in part, responsible for holding our backs upright.
Benefits: Doing this move regularly helps stretch out and open up the chest area, increasing oxygen flow as the lungs have greater room for expansion.
Optimizing oxygen flow into the body is beneficial for reducing the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and can prompt the release of “happy hormones,” too, like endorphins. And let’s face it, we are all here for a little stress-relief wherever we can get it!
2. Trapezius neck stretch
For those of us guilty of hunching right over our computers at our workstations, it’s likely you will already be starting to feel some twinges and aches in the neck and shoulder area. This trapezius neck stretch is perfect for helping to release built-up tension; here’s how!
How to: To stretch out your neck, place your arm and hand across your stomach, take the right hand to the left ear and then gently and slowly push the head down towards the right shoulder. Try and bring the right ear as close to the top of the right shoulder as possible without hurting yourself. Remember to repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: Repeating this move regularly throughout the day will help you stretch tight muscles in your neck and shoulder, helping to combat forward-leaning, while also bringing your consciousness back to how you’re holding yourself while at your desk, stopping the problem at the source.
3. Glute stretch
How to: We are spending more time sitting than ever before, meaning our glutes carry the burden of the tension in the lower halves of our bodies.
While seated, with the right foot planted firmly on the floor, bring the left ankle up onto the top of the right quad. With both hands holding onto your left shin, pull yourself forward towards your knees to stretch out the glutes. Repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: Releasing tension in the glutes will relieve pressure and encourage proper alignment throughout the body. Taking care of your glutes by keeping them strong and regularly stretching to help improve posture while avoiding injuries to your back and knees.
About the author: Dr. Liza Egbogah is a Celebrity Body and Posture Expert.