Many people suffer from back pain. It’s estimated that approximately 4 in 5 Canadians will deal with back pain at some point in their lives, whether it’s severe in the form of herniated discs or simply due to repetitive strain. A prominent contributing factor to back pain is poor posture. For those of us that work at desks all day long, it’s common to find yourself slouching, crossing your legs under your desk, raising your shoulders up to your ears, or any other of a myriad of mistakes we all make.
You’re not always going to have someone with you to pat you on the back and remind you to sit up straight, drop your shoulders, and pull them back. So, instead, we’ve put together a list of three great exercises you can try for some physiotherapy at home or while you’re at the office to help you work on your posture.
From a seated position, make sure you’re sitting up straight and tall, with your feet flat in front of you. Reach your right hand up and over your head, placing it firmly but gently on the left side of your head. Then, without yanking, ever so gently pull your head towards your right shoulder. Remember, you’re not yanking or even pulling too hard. Your hand should act mostly as gravitational assistance to help stretch the left side of your neck and trapezius. Repeat this approximately three times on each side for about 30 – 60 seconds each time.
Alternately you can also try a seated clasping neck stretch where, instead of going from one side to the other, you place both your hands behind your head and gently pull forward.
This exercise you can do either from a standing or seated position, as you prefer. Make sure your shoulders are nice and low, dropped away from your ears. In one smooth motion, pinch your shoulder blades together behind you, almost as if you’re trying to bring your elbows together but keeping your arms straight. Hold this pinched position for a count of five, and then gently release. Repeat this approximately three to five times, or as much as you feel it’s necessary.
This is a great way to open and loosen up your chest, especially if you’ve been sitting for hours at your desk. Stand up and find your nearest doorway. Stand in the doorway with your shoulders low, dropped away from your ears, as they should be. Hold your arms out in front of you with a slight bend in the elbow, and lean through the door frame, keeping your feet firmly planted and your rib cage pointed down. This will really help open things up while also, incidentally, providing a bit of a scapula pinch in the process. Hold this for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat this stretch as much as is necessary.
If you work at a desk all day, whether it’s in an office or from home, remember to keep your posture proper and to stretch throughout the day. At Midtown Physiotherapy Toronto we also like to recommend that you try to walk as much as possible. Yes, even if you’re working at a desk. Take a few minutes every hour or so and just stroll down the hall. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Walking helps back pain and posture in huge ways. This will also help improve your productivity!
Midtown Physiotherapy is a Toronto physiotherapy clinic offering client-centred and evidence-based treatment to help you get back to what you love. We offer appointments at our Yonge and St. Clair location, as well as home services for those unable to come to us.