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Oh My Achy Back!

May16th 2020

Our bodies are made to MOVE! With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are working from home, spending many hours behind a computer, sitting around watching TV or playing on our phones. Multiple hours of sitting and inactivity can lead to neck, shoulder and low back pain, weaken muscles and cause an overall decrease in health.

It is very important to move and stretch to increase blood flow to our muscles and joints and avoid the negative effects of inactivity.

Click on the link to learn some simple stretches to decrease muscle tension, increase flexibility and decrease stiffness. There will also be a step-by-step explanation of the proper ergonomic set-up for your work station.

SEATED STRETCHES: 

1.  Take one arm across your body and place it on the back of your opposite shoulder. Use your other arm to push the back of the elbow. You should feel this stretch on the outside of your arm and shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times with each arm.

2. Interlock both hands above your head, palms facing the ceiling. Sit straight up, then push your palms upward towards the ceiling and elongate your spine. You should feel a nice stretch in your back and shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

3. Raise one arm above your head and bend it slightly across your body. Grab your wrist with the opposite arm and gently pull on your wrist. You should feel a nice stretch on the side of your torso. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times per arm.

4. Cross right leg over left leg, sit nice and tall, gently push on the right knee to “open” the right hip and gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the right hip/glute, hold 10 seconds, repeat 5 times. Repeat on the other side.

STANDING STRETCHES:

1. Hold onto something sturdy, keeping your legs straight, raise yourself by coming up onto your toes. Repeat 21 times.

2. Interlock your fingers behind the back, exhale as you lift your hands up and pull shoulders back hold 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

3. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, place hands in the small of the back, slowly lean backward until you feel a stretch in the low back, (DO NOT lean back to far or rock hips), hold 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.

LYING ON BACK STRETCHES: 

1. Lying on your back with knees bent, grab one knee with both hands, and gently bring the knee towards your chest, hold the stretch for 5 seconds, repeat 10x. Then repeat the same stretch on the other leg. You should feel a stretch in the low back, hip and buttock. You can also add pulling both knees to chest, holding 5 seconds, repeating 10 times.

2. Lying on back, grab one leg and pull it up and across the body towards the opposite shoulder. You should feel a stretch in the low back and buttock. Hold 10 seconds, repeat 5x on each leg.

3. Starting on your hands and knees, sit back onto your heels, walk your hands forward until you feel a stretch throughout the spine. Hold 10 seconds, repeat 5x. Repeat this stretch “walking” your hands to the right side, hold 10 seconds, repeat 5 times and then “walk” your hands to the left side, hold 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Changing positions, stretching, and walking are great ways to relieve strain on the neck, shoulders, low back, and hips after prolonged periods of sitting.

Keep our bodies moving to ease stress, improve flexibility, and decrease pain!

Note: All of these stretches are recommendations. Never work through pain! If you feel pain, stop and contact a medical professional.

DESKTOP ERGONOMIC INFORMATION

SEAT/CHAIR 

  • Seat should contain good lumbar (lower back) support. A good chair will have lumbar support built-in, but if yours does not, you can substitute a rolled up towel that is placed at the curve of your lower back.

  • Arms should be supported by armrests in a position where your shoulders are relaxed.

  • Seat to backrest angle should ideally be 100 DEGREES, so you are slightly reclined to take pressure off your back.

MONITOR

  • Optimal position is 18-30 inches from your eyes.

  • The top of the monitor should be at your eye level.

  • Maintain food/erect head posture with a relaxed neck and shoulders.

DESK 

  • Keyboard should rest 2-3 finger-widths above your knees.

  • “G” and “H” keys should be located directly in front of your navel.

  • A keyboard tray might help with your comfort. If the keyboard is able to tilt, tilt the tray slightly upward, so your fingers are below your wrists.

  • Avoid using wrist rests for the keyboard and the mouse. This puts extra pressure on your carpal tunnel.

MOUSE

  • Hold the mouse gently.

  • Move the mouse from the elbow, not the wrist.

  • A smaller mouse is better for individuals who have tennis elbow symptoms. Whereas a larger mouse is better to decrease carpal tunnel symptoms.

  • Keep the mouse close to the keyboard, if it is used a lot.

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