Simply changing how you hold your device makes a big difference in combating long-term posture problems – as well as catching yourself when you start to slump and practicing some key yoga moves.
Many of us will only realise how bad our posture has become as we start gearing up to take a break from the office and enjoy the summer sun. Just as some people fall ill once they stop working before a holiday, others will realise that rushing to meet last-minute deadlines and internalising their stress has had a detrimental effect on their posture, resulting in lower neck and upper back pain.
This is particularly true for people who spend long periods at their desk without interruption or those who work remotely and are therefore less inclined to take restorative breaks.
Some key signs that show your posture is starting to take a toll include frequent headaches, pain between the shoulder blades, a stiff or immovable neck and even jaw pain. If that sounds like you, rest assured, there are some easy ways to help during work hours. One of the easiest ways to reduce discomfort caused by bad posture is to raise your devices so that they’re on eye-level.
The following moves that can alleviate neck and upper back pain - but make sure you don’t push yourself too much at the start.
Standing Forward Bend
Start by standing upright with your feet together and tightening your leg muscles before inhaling and bringing your arms out to the sides and up towards the ceiling. Keep your arms parallel and your arms very straight, and root your feet to the floor while stretching upwards. Pose before sweeping your arms down on either side and folding forwards from your hips. Bring your fingertips in line with the toes, and press your palms flat. Let your head hang loosely and inhale slowly on the way back up.
Warrior II Pose
Start by standing upright with your feet together or hip-width apart. Spread your toes so you’re rooted to the floor, and tighten your kneecaps, thighs, and tailbone so your hips are directly aligned over your ankles. Exhale and drop your shoulders down as you extend your fingertips to the floor before raising your arms high and then bringing your hands together in front of your chest. Take a big step back with your left leg, toes pointing inwards. Press your feet down, and firm your legs before raising your arms outwards parallel to the floor. Make sure that you keep your shoulders down to lengthen your neck and bend your right knee so that it aligns above your ankle. Press down through your toes to promote balance and hold.
Extended Triangle Pose
To come into this pose, stand facing the long side of your mat with your feet apart. Turn your right foot out so that your toes point towards the short edge of the mat, and turn your toes in. Roll your right thigh out before extending your body and lifting your arms so that they're parallel to the floor. Point with your left arm to the ceiling – while the other is downwards, resting on your ankle – and ensure your neck aligns with your spine.
Start on your hands and knees (so you’re on all fours) with knees under the hips and your wrists in line with your shoulders. Spread your fingers and pull your stomach in as you exhale, bringing your waist up and rounding out your spine. Actively push against the floor to feel the stretch in your back before relaxing on the inhale to return to a neutral position.
Thread the Needle
Start on all fours and stack your hips directly above your knees, with your elbows, shoulders, and wrists straight to the ground. Lift your right hand up and follow it with your gaze, then follow your hand down as you thread it beneath your left arm. Keep your hips high and lower your chest to the ground. Hold the position for as long as you need before switching sides.
Erika Weiss is a wellness expert at ISSA Yoga