Let’s face it: work hurts. The human body wasn’t designed to spend long stretches of the day seated in uncomfortable chairs, which is why its responding with aches, inflexibility, and stiffness that no dosage of Aleve can cure. We are developing preventable syndromes like carpal tunnel and acute and chronic pain because as our workforce rapidly changed with the influx of technology, we changed alongside it – at the cost of our comfort. But back pain can be greatly reduced – if not entirely eliminated – with these simple yoga poses.
Recently the focus has shifted, widening the view of the workplace to include health and fitness. Additions to our 9-5’s like stand-up desks and companies encouraging employees to get up and walk or stretch their legs every hour has helped this issue enormously. But it isn’t enough. Just as you stretch after a workout, you need to stretch after a workday.
One of the best poses for releasing lower back tension is considered a “resting pose” in the yoga practice. Sitting on your heels, you can bring your knees hips width apart or close together depending on what feels right for your back, then lower your forehead to the mat with your arms extended. As you breathe in this pose, try to lower your hips towards your heels. This is a great stretch for the spine and instantly improves back pain.
From Child’s pose, come up to all fours and then lower your stomach down to the mat, extending the legs long. Bring the elbows directly under the shoulders, spread the fingertips wide. With the inhale, pull the chest through the arms, with the exhale, relax. This stretch brings space between the vertebrae of the lumbar spine and will alleviate compression.
Upward Facing Dog
From Sphinx pose, lower down onto the belly, bringing the chin to the mat. Place the palms next to the bottom of your rib cage and press up, straightening the elbows. Keep the tops of the feet and the palms on the mat, lift everything else to hover just above the mat. This is an excellent stretch for the upper and lower back, especially if you suffer chronic back pain.
From Upward facing dog, lower the belly to the mat and then flip to lie on your back. Extend the arms straight alongside the body, palms pressed into the mat. Keep the legs together and kick them over your head, using your arms for leverage. Bring the toes to touch the mat behind you, hands at your low back for support. If you have back pain, lower your toes as far as you can before stopping and hovering the toes off the mat. Be careful not to move your head around in Plow, just stay still until you can slowly lower your feet to the floor.
Once you carefully roll your legs out of Plow, try the counter pose, Fish pose. Peel your right hip off the mat and slide your right hand (palm face down) under the right hip. Repeat on the left side. Your hands are hidden under your hips, elbows straight, thumbs touching. Inhale to gaze at your toes, bending the elbows to bear most of your weight. Exhale and tip the crown of the head to touch the mat, gazing at the back of the room. This is a wonderful chest, throat, and upper back opener.
From Fish pose, bring both hands out from underneath you, coming to lay on your back with your legs extended. Bend right knee into chest, use your left hand to grab the outside of the knee, and pull the knee across the chest. Extend the right arm out to the right side, and gaze at the right thumb. This supine twist is wonderful for spinal flexibility and increasing circulation. When you’re ready, repeat on other side.
After releasing your left knee come out of Spinal twist slowly, come to a seated position. Bring the soles of the feet together, letting the knees sink towards the mat. This yoga pose is called butterfly because you can flutter your knees up and down like butterfly wings. Interlock the fingers around the feet, gently lowering your forehead towards your toes. You can extend the arms out in front of you or out to the sides. This is a beautiful release for lower back pain and also creates length along the upper back.
How to Live Your Best Life
Whether you work from home in a light-filled home office in one of Related Rental’s gorgeous properties or in an office, these stretches take less than five minutes and can be done in the morning or after a long work day. If you work from home, you can do them anytime. Keeping the back flexible not only keeps your lifestyle more active, it makes your life more enjoyable. Because who wants to live with back pain?
Related residents, if you day is too busy to make it to Equinox for a hour-long sweat session, just squeeze in this quick 20-minute “do anywhere” workout! No equipment required: all you need is a mat and a quarter of an hour to feel stronger, leaner, and totally rejuvenated! Be sure to balance your physical workout with a mental workout too and carve out time (even if it’s just 5 minutes!) to meditate. Meditating is proven to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream. That must be why scientists found a link between high performers and daily meditation.
In addition to these daily back stretches, use our five tips for staying healthy throughout a workday. Print out this infographic and keep it visible next to your desk to remind yourself to drink plenty of water since dehydration causes muscle ache. Find a new Spotify playlist that keeps you moving in your seat to increase endorphins. Make sure you get up and walk around at least once an hour to promote circulation. Find a workout whenever you can by taking the stairs or using the restroom furthest from your desk. And most importantly, remember to make these habits a daily practice because when it comes to building a healthy lifestyle, consistency is key. Related is invested in your wellness because we don’t just value where you live, we value your quality of life above all.