A mini desk workout to help prevent back and neck pain

Are you slouching more than usual in your makeshift workspace? Here's a quick fix to help you stretch, strengthen and straighten up.

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By Stephanie Mansour

Have you been working from home at your dining room table, on your couch or even from bed? In these days of self-quarantine more than ever before, we find ourselves typing away on our laptops and tablets in different positions around the house. While it’s good to switch things up for a change of scenery, lounging around without ergonomic support isn’t necessarily great for our backs, shoulders or neck.

To help you maintain good posture no matter where you’re working, I’ve created a quick stretch and core routine that combines both yoga and Pilates exercises. These simple moves will not only help straighten you out, they’ll reduce strain and tension in your shoulder muscles, neck, spine and legs.

Shoulder Stretch

While seated or standing, roll your shoulders back and clasp your hands behind you. Pull your arms away from your back as you expand your chest, and breathe deeply. Stick your chest forward as you pull your arms back. Hold this for 3 deep breaths, in and out.

Neck Stretch

Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder to stretch the left side of your neck. Lift the right arm up and press your right hand onto the left side of your head for a more intense stretch. Hold this for 3 deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

Shoulder Shrugs

Roll your shoulders up, back and down, and then repeat. These shoulder shrugs (aka shoulder circles) help loosen up the upper back and neck muscles. Do this for 20 seconds.

Core Pulsing

To support your lower back, pull your navel in toward your spine as if someone is punching you in the stomach. Contract your lower abs in and out, and count to 20. This helps to strengthen the front of the body to take pressure off your lower back.

Toe Taps

Shift to the edge of your couch, bed or chair, and position your knees at a 90-degree angle. Lift the toes on your right foot up and then tap them down while keeping your heel on the ground, your knee at a 90-degree angle and your back straight. Raising your toes as high as you can, alternate between the right and left side 10 times each.

Single Leg Hamstring Stretch

Stand up and place your right heel onto the chair or couch. Flex the foot, and lean forward to stretch the hamstring and calf. Make sure your hips are square to the chair and your feet are hip width apart. Hold this position for 3 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

This routine counts as a mini workout, too, because we’re combining Pilates core work with yoga stretching and strengthening. Repeat it every hour if possible.