For many of us, spending more time at home has become a new normal – and it comes with a whole set of challenges. Our homes have become a multi-use space – from being a place to live and rest, to a one-stop shop for our whole lives – school, gym, office and more. When it comes to working from home, not everyone is able to create an ergonomically-friendly workspace, so things like back pain can become a problem. But simple stretches at home can help to solve that…
Inactivity and poor posture are the biggest contributor to back pain. This is because we’re likely moving less while at home and when we do, it’s within smaller spaces compared to when we’re at work. You may also be sitting on something less comfortable than your usual office chair, making it more difficult to sit properly for long periods of time. Finally, with less to do outside, it’s easy to spend more time on our electronic devices, which isn’t conducive to good posture or movement.
Our back health is a key component to how the rest of our body feels – because the back connects the upper and lower body. A sore back could mean you also experience discomfort in other areas – tight hips and legs or a stiff neck and shoulders.
The most effective way to combat these niggles is mobility. Simply keep moving as much as possible. If you can, set reminders to get up and move around every hour – whether that’s a trip to the kitchen for a cuppa or going to the loo. You could even do a few squats or lunges if that’s your thing!
Regular exercise should also help to counteract some of the effects of prolonged sitting. Remember to warm up and cool down thoroughly though! Our bodies may be more susceptible to injury thanks to decreased activity. Combining the two should help to keep your back in top form.
To give you an extra boost, here are some quick and easy stretches you can do daily to help ease and prevent flare ups.
Twisted lower back stretch
Lying on your back, with your arms stretched out on either side of you bring your right knee up and use your left hand to gently bring it over your left leg. Try to keep your right shoulder on the floor, you should feel a stretch in your lower back and outside hip / bottom area where your gluteal muscles are. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Knees to chest
Lying on your back, lift both legs up and bend at a 90 degree angle at the knee. Then clasp your hands over your knees and slowly bring them closer towards your chest. Hold for 30 seconds, you should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back.
Hip extension (lumbar extension)
Standing with your legs roughly shoulder width apart, feet facing forward, put both hands on your hips. Push your hips forward, you may feel a stretch in your hip flexors at the tops of your thighs and in your lower back.T ry not to arch your back too much, only go as far as to feel a comfortable stretch in one or both areas. Hold for 30 seconds.
Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, place your right leg forward. Slightly bend your left leg and keep your right leg straight. Lift your right toes up, but keep your heel on the floor. Bend forward at the hips – you should feel this in your right hamstring, at the back of your leg. Stretch your arms toward the floor as you bend to increase the intensity. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Hip flexor stretch
Kneeling with both knees on the floor, step your right leg up so your legs are now at 90 degree angles. Gently push your left hip forwards but don’t let your right knee go over your toes. You should feel a stretch in your left hip flexor at the front of your thigh Hold for 30 seconds then swap legs and repeat on the other side.
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