Work From Home Exercises (Stretches for Desk Workers)

February 4, 2021

Due to the ongoing pandemic, there are more people working from home than ever. In fact, it’s estimated that 40% of people who would normally be commuting are now working remotely due to the virus. That’s on top of the approximately 19 million Americans who worked from home pre-pandemic.

While you may be enjoying a “commute-less” work schedule, one of the down sides to working from home is the increased amount of time you now spend working in less-than-ideal workspaces. This could mean eight-plus hours of being hunched over a laptop, sitting slouched on a couch, or using your living room coffee table as your new desk. This can mean putting your body in some tough positions and leaving your joints and muscles aching by day’s end.

It’s always a great idea to get up and take breaks throughout the workday: Our bodies simply are not made to tolerate such positions for such prolonged periods of time. While you’re taking that break, take a few minutes to try one of these stretches that can help counter those working-from-home pains:

Thoracic Extension Stretch (Foam Roller Stretch) 

Hunching over the screen or keyboard rounds our mid-back forward, which can cause pain that starts between the shoulder blades, and may radiate even further. To counterbalance this position, place a foam roller on the floor perpendicular to your spine (so it forms a T). If you don’t have a roam roller, use a larger ball such as basketball or soccer ball. Sit on the floor and lean back so the roller (or ball) lands right between the shoulder blades. Take both hands and reach behind your head to support the head. Gently lean backwards, extending your spine over the roller. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat 10 times. To work on a different level of your spine, move the roller slightly up or down.

Upper Trap Stretches

We often hear patients say, “I carry my stress in my shoulders.” When we feel tense, our shoulders tend to migrate upwards to our ears. This can lead to pain in the large muscle that connects your shoulder blade to the upper cervical spine and head. To stretch this muscle, let your shoulder relax downwards. With your opposite hand, gently reach over your head, and pull your ear towards to the same shoulder. Focus on taking relaxing breaths. Hold this position for 30 seconds if you can and repeat 2 to 3 times on each side.

Pec Stretches

Our shoulders don’t just tend to move upwards when we are stressed, they tend to move forward as well. This can lead to our chest muscles shortening over time, causing pain that radiates into the anterior shoulder. To stretch this muscle, stand in a doorway and put your arm up at a 90-degree angle on the door frame. Take one step forward, and gently lean forward stretching the arm/chest. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each side.

Hip Flexor Stretches

Prolonged sitting can create tightness in the front of the hips, which over time, can limit your ability to fully extend the hip. This inability can decrease your ability to stand up completely straight or walk normally. To stretch this muscle, place one knee on the floor with a cushion underneath it. Place the other leg out in front of you, and gently shift weight towards the front leg. Be sure not to overextend your lower back by keeping your core muscles lightly engaged. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip. To add to the stretch, reach the same arm straight up into the air.  Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each side.

Wrist Extensor Stretches

Repetitive manual activities such as typing, writing or moving a mouse, can increase tension in the muscles of our forearms. To stretch this group of muscles, straighten the elbow, and with the opposite hand, gently pull down on the back of the hand creating a stretch through forearm. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each side.

Has working from home become a pain for you? If breaks and stretching don’t work, consult a specialist at Orlin & Cohen, Long Island’s top orthopedic team. Immediate appointments are available: Request yours now.