While the dreadful global pandemic has wreaked havoc in our personal lives, it has also welcomed unforeseen changes in the professional world. Working from the office seems to be an age-old practice with the advent of 'WFH', which is fast-becoming the new norm. And, while sharing your home space as your workspace brings with it umpteen benefits (not to mention hosting Zoom calls in PJ's), you may experience novel aches and pains that have also managed to creep into your life.
Why so? You may ask. Well, if you're one of those who is working from your dining table, couch, or worse, your bed, you'd have the answer!
Sources reveal that health ailments such as spinal strain and lower back pain, related to severe work pressure, have topped online consultation queries. And, while you may argue that 'things will soon go back to normal', mind you, it may not always be the case. These apparently temporary pains can end up having long-term (read painful!) repercussions.
"As we're forced to lead a sedentary lifestyle in the times of Covid-19, it is paramount that we engage in exercises that maintain our muscle and bone mass. Especially with our day-to-day activities including traveling to work and fro, walking etc having come to a drastic halt," says Dr Yash Gulati, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. "While working from home, ensure that you are seated on the right kind of chair and in the correct posture, with your back straight and computer screen exactly at eye level," he adds.
All said and done, despite these interventions prolonged working hours are bound to create stiffness and pressure on your muscles. However, performing specific workstation exercises can ease your stiffness and rigidity right away!
Neck and Back Relaxation
1. Neck rotation - While you are at your desk, rotate your neck slowly to either side, at least 3 times, along with gentle breathing. Perform this exercise twice a day. This helps release the spinal tension and prevents stiffness in the neck.
2. Shoulder shrugs - Easy-to-do and highly effective, this exercise instantly releases the rigidity in both the neck as well as the shoulders. With your hands on your lap, pull and drop your shoulders gently to experience relaxation in the shoulder and neck region. Repeat at least 3 times a day.
3. Abdominal strengthening - Lie on your back with both knees bent. Grasp both knees and bring them towards your chest. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
4. Pelvic Lift - Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the bed, and arms at your sides. Tighten your stomach muscles and flatten your back against the floor without pushing down on the feet.
(While abdominal strengthening and pelvic lift are not desk workouts, they are extremely important for those who spend prolonged hours at their work desk)
5. Stretch, stretch and stretch! - Sit up straight, hold both your hands behind your back and hold this posture for 10 seconds. This exercise helps release tightness in your muscles. Next, with your hands interlaced try and reach for the ceiling by pulling your arms and body upwards. Following this, you can stretch sideways to keep the muscles agile. These techniques help your entire body unwind and open up. Regular stretching exercises also keep stress at bay, which consequently improves blood and oxygen circulation in the body, digestion and respiratory functions.
(Avoid over-stretching as it may cause muscle injury)
Apart from these exercises, if you experience back pain, headaches and stiffness, try self massaging the areas to ease the pain. But in case the problem persists, its advised that you consult a professional.