Protect your back when working from home

Many of us are new to working from home and don’t have the right equipment like ergonomic chairs to help us avoid back pain. Mari Leach shares exercises and tips to help you protect and strengthen your back when you sit by your computer all day.

Part of staying healthy and fit and taking care of your body while you work. Many of us are not used to working from home, and may be finding the experience quite painful – literally. Here's how you can take care of your back when you work from home.

Exercises to stretch out and strengthen your back

In the following video, Discovery Vitality biokineticist Mari Leach demonstrates exercises that can help stretch and strengthen your lower and upper back. "These areas can get quite achy from sitting and working in front of a computer all day," she says.

First, she shows three stretches that you can do while you're sitting in your chair. "We want to open up the chest, because when we work in front of a computer, we often tend to have rounded shoulders."

  1. Interlace your hands behind your back, lift your chest up and lift your hands up. Feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.
  2. Pull the towel down to feel a stretch in your tricep muscle on the arm that's at the top. Now pull the towel upwards and you'll feel the stretch in the front of your shoulder on the arm that's behind your back. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds, repeat 2 to 3 times.
  3. Lift up your chest and keep your chin in, try not to overextend your lower back by pulling in your belly button towards the spine.

Next, Mari demonstrates exercises to strengthen your lower and upper back, which include pelvic lifts, hamstring stretches, side planks, front planks and more. She also shares invaluable advice on maintaining your form.

Watch the video to see how she does it:

For more back strengthening exercises, check out the UK’s National Health Service for 5 exercises that can help alleviate back pain.

Protect your back in 5 steps

Here are 5 more ways that you can take care of your back while working from home.

  1. Support your lower back

    Place a rolled-up towel, jacket or lumbar support pillow between your chair and the small of your lower back. This will help you sit up straight and prevent lower back pain.

  2. Make your chair more comfortable

    Put a soft pillow or a fluffy blanket on your chair to make it more comfortable. You won't feel the urge to slouch so much if you're sitting on something soft.

  3. Take a break

    Move as often as you can to circulate the blood flow. Take a 5- to 10-minute break every hour to get up and stretch or walk around. It's also a good time to try housewalking and achieve your 10 000 steps!

    Remember, you can earn 50 Vitality fitness points for tracking between 5 000 and 9 999 steps in a day or 100 points for tracking 10 000 or more steps in a day on your smartphone by linking your Apple Health app or Samsung Health app to Discovery.

  4. Create a better working space

    Keep your computer screen below eye level so that reading doesn’t hurt your neck, and an arm’s length away so you don’t strain your eyes. Adjust your chair until your feet are flat on the ground and your hips, knees and thighs are at a 90-degree angle when you sit down.

  5. Invest in an ergonomic chair or an exercise/Swiss ball

    A medicine ball is great for your core, but might start to hurt if you have a job where you sit for hours on end. When you order a new chair online, make sure you can adjust the seat height, arm rests and back rests, and that it provides the correct support of your posture, weight and lumbar while sitting.

Keep moving to achieve your goals at home

Vitality members can now get fit and healthy in their own homes with our brand-new offering, Vitality at Home. With Vitality at Home, you'll get access to free high-intensity workouts, yoga, fitness challenges and more. There's something for everyone, including workout videos from top fitness instructors on the Vitality Home-Workout Channel, the latest fitness news and advice for exercising at home, and updates to your gym and Vitality Active Rewards benefits. Learn more about Vitality at Home.

Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay rewarded.

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