Since many of us are staying home during the pandemic, we may be missing out on the daily movement that keeps us active and healthy. Sitting for a prolonged period of time can cause some neck and back pain, and if a person is sedentary, it may cause some strength and mobility issues in the hips.
To help you stay active from the comfort of your home, Ashley M. Everett, SPT, CSCS, a third-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UT Health San Antonio, shares a few exercises that would benefit anyone spending more time sitting in front of a screen due to Zoom meetings, studying, watching TV or prolonged phone usage. These quick exercises can be easily incorporated into your daily life to help promote a healthy routine.
- Start with your head and neck in a relaxed and neutral position. Think “Head above shoulders”!
- Pull your head straight back while maintaining the position of your head in neutral. Try your best not to bring your chin downward or upward as you move back into the desired position. Think of making a double chin.
This exercise works on strengthening the small muscles located on the backside of your neck. It is a classic postural exercise that can help prevent or correct a “forward head” posture while also reducing neck pain.
3 sets of 10-second holds. 2x/day.
- Place your forearm against a wall with an elbow at 90 degrees. Face your arm.
- Turn toward the opposite side that you are stretching until you feel the stretch.
This stretch is good to help prevent rounding of the shoulders and facilitate good posture!
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds – 1min. Repeat 4x.
- Begin by placing you back against a flat wall. You can have a slight bend at the knees. Bring your arms up against the wall with the backs of your hands, forearms, and elbows making contact against it.
- Bend your elbows at 90 degrees. Begin to slowly slide your arms up until you begin to feel tension.
- Hold that position for 3 seconds and slowly return to the start position.
Do not arch your back. Try your best to keep in contact with the wall and think “neutral”!
Most of us spend our time in a forward flexed position (i.e. typing, reading, studying, texting, etc.) thus creating tightness to the anterior part of our body. This exercise engages and strengthens the muscles of our upper back while stretching those tight muscles. In addition, it provides a form of slight traction to alleviate some compression that the spine has undergone from that forward flexed position. This is a great postural exercise!
5 repetitions (Up and down = 1 rep) 3x/day
- Begin by lying on your back with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees and arms reaching up toward the sky.
- Extend only your left leg and right arm and reach out as far as you can while engaging your core. Hold for 3 seconds.
- Bring your arm and leg back to center.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
This is a great exercise targeting the muscles that enhance the stability of your spine and prevent it from moving places it shouldn’t! The exercise teaches you to effectively move opposing limbs in tandem while keeping your core stable and your back protected.
3 sets of 10 reps each side, hold each rep for 3 seconds.