With the COVID-19 pandemic, the home office has become the only office for many workers. Some are leaning into the comforts of home and sitting down on the cozy couch or bed with a laptop for the day. Unfortunately, long hours in these positions can cause back pain.
The advantage, however, of working in comfortable clothes and a private space is that you can do back exercises at home to provide some relief. We’ll start below with tips for pain prevention and continue with a back pain exercise plan you can work into your new routine.
Advice for Work from Home Pain Prevention
Aim for proper posture. It may be tempting to sit on the sofa or even in bed, but selecting an ergonomic chair and desk is best. Sit with feet flat on the floor, legs at a 90-degree angle, and head, neck and spine aligned. Adjust the monitor so that your eyes align with the top – avoid angling head and neck downward, as this puts strain on the back.
Avoid being sedentary. Get up and move for a few minutes every hour. Even better, use a height adjustable desk to switch up your body position while you work. Proper posture for standing work is similar to that of seated work – just bring your legs into alignment with the head, neck and spine.
Exercises to Relieve Back Pain
The focus of many of these exercises if strengthening the core, so they’re beneficial for anyone. Even if you aim for correct posture, back pain can still creep in. Try these back exercises at home to heal, recover and strengthen.
For partial crunches, lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Use your hands to support the back of your neck, or cross your arms over your chest. Inhale, and then on an exhale, raise your shoulders off the floor by tightening the stomach muscles. If your elbows are behind your head, make sure they don’t pull you up – they’re just there for support.
Hold the position briefly, then gently lower yourself back to the floor. Repeat around 10 times. Your feet and lower back should never leave the floor. This exercise strengthens your stomach and back muscles, helping to provide support for daily activities.
Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with stomach muscles tightened. Lift one leg off the floor and straighten it out behind you, keeping your body level. Hold the position for several seconds, then repeat the process with the opposite leg. Repeat around 10 times per leg, lengthening the hold time if you can. You may also incorporate straightening out the opposite arm of the lifted leg.
For the dead bug exercise, start just the way it sounds! Lie on the floor on your back with arms and legs in the air – knees slightly bent. Press your lower back into the floor to activate your core muscles, and slowly lower both your right arm and left leg until they’re parallel with the floor. Take a complete breath while holding steady, then return to your starting position using those engaged core muscles. Now, repeat the action using the opposite arm and leg, and continue this pattern for about a minute.
Start this back pain exercise by lying down on your right side with feet together, propping up your upper body with your forearm flat on the floor and elbow directly underneath your shoulder. Engage that core again and lift your hips off the floor to create a straight line from head to toe. You’ll quickly feel your oblique muscles (on the sides of the abdomen) start to work hard. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on your left side.
Lie down on your stomach with your arms bent underneath you, so that your shoulders are resting on your hands. Push up to lift your shoulders off the floor. If possible, shift slightly to place your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and hold for several seconds.
After a set of exercises engaging and working the core muscles, this stretch will feel good. Start in a tabletop position on the floor, with a straight back, wrists directly underneath shoulders and knees aligned with hips. Your neck should be aligned with the spine so you’re looking slightly downward. Take a deep breath in as you arch your back, tilting the pelvis upward. Your belly will drop down and head will look up. This is the “cow” pose. To move into “cat” pose, exhale while tucking in your tailbone. This will round your spine, and your head will follow, dropping to look almost behind you. Repeat these actions up to 10 times, breathing each time.
Try these back exercises at home today!