04 Apr Desk set up and lower back exercises
Over the past 10 days loads of people have had to spend more time at home, sitting down. I include myself in this and I have definitely noticed a difference with my body as a result. Lots of people are asking me for tips and advice for making their lockdown situation work better for them so their back feels less achy and sore. So, here are some tips included in this document. Some of them will probably seem obvious…the point is you must make a routine of them.
Get up, stand up:
Calculate how many hours you’re spending sitting down each day. Is it 8? 14? Is it absolutely necessary for you to sit down for that long? Ideally you should be standing every 20-30 minutes to give your back a break from the pressure. My brother thought he was being really good at standing once an hour! Here are some tips to increase breaks from sitting down.
Change your working environment
If you’re on a laptop change where you’re working from every hour. Maybe on the kitchen surface on a pile of books (with a detachable keyboard), maybe on the sofa, maybe sat cross legged on the floor. Maybe lying on your front on the mattress. The key is to change it rather than staying in the same position all the time. If you’re on a desktop consider moving it to a kitchen surface for half a day. When you take a phone call stand up and walk around. If you’re on skype/Zoom or house party stand up.
Do online at home workouts.
There’s now so many workouts for you to enjoy online in the comfort of your own home there’s no excuse. Put a timetable in to your day. For example, before 9am do a strength workout and then after 5pm do a yoga or Pilates session online. There’s plenty of choice you just have to prioritise it at certain times of the day. Prioritise your body and it will thank you.
Make sure you capitalise on your right to exercise outside every day with either walking, running or cycling (government policy). One way that I’ve found making outdoor fitness more enjoyable is to join the fitness app Strava (others are available) which records all your stats and you can see what your friends are doing fitness wise as well as feeling part of something. You might find this lockdown actually makes you fitter!
Try not to arch your back if you’re standing for long periods. Have a slight bend in your knees and tilt your pelvis forward. If you’re at the kitchen surface alternate standing on one leg and putting the other leg on a box so one knee has a slight bend. This changes the pressure though your back and hips and ensures your back isn’t too arched.
Make sure your hips are above your knees when sitting down. This can easily be achieved by sitting on some cushions. Make sure the top of your screen is at eye level so that you’re not looking down all the time. If you’re on a laptop this is where you can put the laptop on a pile of books and purchase a detachable keyboard to help keep your arms at desk height. Make sure the screen is directly in front of you, rather than slightly to the left or right. If you’re working on 2 screens, make sure you’re not favouring one screen over the other and therefor holding your head position to one side more. Make sure the mouse and keyboard are as close to you as possible so you’re not leaning forward to reach them.
A lot of people get relief from stretching their hips out if they’ve been sat for long periods. These following exercises can be done a couple of times per day.
Bringing both knees to the chest whilst lying on the floor, then bringing the opposite knee to the opposite shoulder. This helps mobilise the hip joints as they’ve most likely been kept in only 2 positions through the day.
In addition to bringing your knees up to the chest try lying on your back, having your knees bent whilst feet on the floor then moving your knees side to side to help gently rotate the spine.
A nice shoulder, hip and upper back mobility exercise is what yogi’s call the Child’s pose. Simply kneel down, sit back on your haunches then reach with forward with your hands on the floor ahead of you lengthening through the spine.
In addition to the Child’s pose a variation for the upper back would be lifting your arms above your head or placing your hands on the kitchen surface, taking a step back and bending forward whilst keeping your hands on the surface.
Strength exercises should always include a plank and side plank. Also try to add some squats and lunges to keep a bit of power in your hips and low back.
The important thing is to keep moving, keep mobilising the hips and shoulders, keep taking breaks, allocate time for exercise and going out for walk/runs or cycles. Try not to be in one position for more than 15-20 minutes. Just so you know, I’ve written this with the desk top PC on the kitchen surface, perched on a kitchen stool.
I’m currently creating a catalogue of videos on YouTube, so you’ll be able to see a more in depth version of these exercises and tips. I hope to have these created in the next week or so and will update you when this happens.
If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com