WATCH: 7 simple stretches if you’re working or studying at home
During this challenging time, it is important to take time out for yourself, when you can, to care for your body and mind.
Many of us are working and studying from home, with limited space that we may be sharing with others. We’re probably using tables and chairs that weren’t designed for long periods of sitting, and this can lead to aches and pains. To look after yourself, it is crucial to take time away from the screen and perform some simple exercises.
Watch our video tutorials created by the Sussexsport team for tips on how to keep well and active at home. Here’s Terry, our Duty Head of Sport, with seven simple stretches that can be used as part of your warm up, as a break from the screen or for just taking 10 minutes in the day to have some time for yourself.
So if you’re having a coffee break, incorporate these simple exercises into your day while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil! Complete 2–3 sets of 6–10 gentle repetitions.
1. Ankle Mobility
If you’re sitting for much of the day, the simple movement that your ankle joints get when you walk, run or do other exercise will be neglected.
This exercise is great to maintain or improve ankle mobility, which is vital for good movement. You may feel restriction within the ankle joint itself, but also pay attention to any tightness in the calf area, as this tightness will also hinder quality movement.
To progress and give yourself more of a challenge, increase the load/weight, stand up, face the wall and repeat the instructions above.
2. Seated mid-spine rotations
This simple stretch will help you to maintain or improve mobility in the mid-spine region. This is an area that can be often neglected and has an important part to play in allowing us to perform quality movement in the shoulder and lower back and hip area.
If you’ve been leaning over a laptop all day, make sure to relieve those muscles with this basic functional movement.
To progress, try this exercise standing up. If you need to adapt the stretch because you are finding it hard to maintain the mid-spine extension in the low seated position, take a seat on a chair or sofa and this should help.
3. Hip mobility
This stretch will help to improve your hip and mid-spine mobility and hip and hamstring flexibility. If you’re sitting for much of the day, your hamstrings are frequently in a contracted position, leading to a tight lower back and legs. This stretch will help to loosen muscles in your back and legs to relieve all that chair time.
To progress, start in the push up/plank position; step the foot wider to increase stretch; add a mid-spine rotation with your arm that is closest to front foot.
To adapt this stretch, place your hands on yoga blocks, a step, chair or sofa to help with mid-spine extension.
4. Hip 90 90
While you’re at home and less able to participate in your normal fitness or sporting routine, this exercise will keep you flexible with all round movement .This particular exercise maintains and improves mobility in your hip: both internally and externally. Traditional hip mobility exercises look at simple forward and backward movements only, but internal and external mobility is key for cultivating all round greater flexibility.
To progress, when your outside knee/leg has reached the ground, you can then lean over the grounded leg to increase the mobility required.
If you find you need to adapt the stretch, try leaning back slightly to allow more room in the hips for movement.
5. Wall Slides
Sitting in a chair or on a sofa for long periods of the day limits our range of motion, and while we typically think of our back and neck being most affected, our chest can also suffer. This stretch will open up the chest, improve activation of mid-back muscles and improve shoulder mobility.
This is a surprisingly challenging exercise and if you are someone who is desk based, you may find this one challenging. Start slowly and progress where you can.
Once you’re comfortable, you can add a resistance band to progress so that the band is pulling the arms forward.
To make the exercise a bit easier, try facing the wall and reducing how open your chest needs to be, you can then move closer to the wall as you improve.
6. Wide stance hip rocking
This stretch again focuses on the hips, releasing any aches and pains in your lower back. If your posture has been affected by being hunched over a computer all day, this stretch will be effective in opening up your hips and lower back.
Want to make it tougher? Over time, look to increase the range of movement, like getting closer to your feet.
If you want to take it a bit easier, reduce movement and start and finish the movement with shoulders over hands.
7. Mid-spine rotations
Hunching over your computer or phone for long periods can affect your shoulders, back and neck muscles, which can lead to jaw pain and headaches. This simple stretch will relieve muscles in your upper and mid-back and improve your posture.
If you’re finding it difficult to get a full torso rotation, place the palm of your hand on the side of the head, before rotating.