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Working from home can feel exhausting, especially when our daily step count has plummeted since leaving our workplace. This is when stretching can come in handy. It’s easy, free, only takes a few minutes – and is highly beneficial. Stretching can [1]:

  • Help reduce fatigue by promoting circulation and getting the blood pumping oxygen and nutrients to our muscles
  • Help our posture by getting our muscles moving before they become stiff and tight from sitting in one place, allowing the muscles to function more efficiently
  • Help manage musculoskeletal aches and pains – including lower back, neck and shoulder discomfort
  • Help manage musculoskeletal injuries associated with repetitive activities like carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and “blackberry thumb”
  • Help reduce stress
  • Help improve concentration by encouraging regular breaks and changes of position

We’ve put together five simple yet effective stretches for your back and lower limbs that you can do at home with no additional equipment.

 

1. Quad Stretch

Your quads (quadriceps) are the group of four muscles at the front of your thigh. They are large, powerful muscles that are responsible for straightening the leg and flexing the hip. The quads are very active in tasks such as sprinting, climbing stairs, cycling, squats and lunges.

 

To stretch the quads

  1. Using the back of your desk or chair for support, stand on your right leg, one knee touching the other. 
  2. Take your left heel towards your bottom and use your left hand to hold your foot. 
  3. Make sure you keep standing tall and your pelvis is facing the front. 
  4. You should feel a gentle stretch in your quads (i.e., in the front of your left thigh).
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then swap sides. Repeat twice.

 

2. Hamstring Stretch

At the back of the thigh, a group of three muscles known as the hamstrings are responsible for bending and stabilising the knee. The hamstrings are used extensively when running, walking and jumping. Prolonged periods of sitting can increase hamstring tightness.  

 

To stretch the hamstrings

  1. Stand with your right leg slightly in front of the left.
  2. Bend forward from your waist, keeping your back straight.
  3. Keeping your right knee slightly bent, point your right toes to the sky.
  4. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh.
  5. Hold this for 30 seconds, ensuring that the stretching feeling reduces over time, and repeat twice.

 

3. Calf Stretch

At the back of the shins, your calves contain two muscles which start above the knee and form the Achilles tendon at the bottom, connecting the heel and foot to the lower leg. The calf muscles are particularly important for stability, as well as assisting with general leg movement and deceleration.

 

To stretch the calves

  1. Stand facing a wall, approximately 1m back, with one leg in front of the other.
  2. With both feet flat on the floor, lean forward toward the wall, slightly bending the front knee and keeping the back leg straight.
  3. You should feel the stretch in the back leg at the calf muscles. If you don’t, step further back from the wall, and repeat.
  4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Swap sides and repeat twice.

 

4. Back Stretch

Long hours working at a computer can lead to poor posture and a sore back, particularly if your home office set up isn’t as well set up as it should be. If your back is feeling sore, try loosening the muscles in the spine with this stretch.

 

Back rotation stretch

  1. Clear a space on the floor so nothing is within arms reach. If you have a yoga or workout mat, you can use this for added comfort.
  2. Lie flat on your back with legs extended straight and arms outstretched at your sides.
  3. Raise your left knee straight upwards and then rotate that knee across the body to the floor on the right side. You can use your right hand to gently assist if required.
  4. Your left arm should be extended to the left side for balance, keeping your upper body flat on your back and letting your spine rotate gently. 
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Swap sides and repeat twice.

 

5. Shoulder Stretch

Often forgotten about, tension in the shoulders from working all day at a desk or generally poor posture can lead to pressure and tightness in the neck and upper back. Try these simple stretches to relieve some of the stiffness you may have.

 

Shoulder stretches

  1. Standing up straight, move your shoulders in a circular motion – up, forwards and downwards. Keep the motion slow and smooth, go forwards 15 times and then the same backwards.
  2. Standing side-on next to a wall (as close as you can without touching), make big circles with your arm nearest the wall. Do this 15 times forwards, then 15 times backwards. Face the other direction to change sides.
  3. Grab a pillow for your head and lie on your side, on the floor, with your knees bent in front of you.
  4. Extend both arms straight out at 90 degrees from your chest, palms together as if you are clapping.
  5. Keeping your hips and lower body still, lift your top arm up and over the body to the other side as far as it will go. Your head, neck and chest should follow this motion but the lower body should remain still.
  6. Hold for 2 seconds at the extreme and then return slowly to the start position. Repeat 15 times and then change sides.

 

Remember: while you should feel a gentle increase in tension when doing these stretches, you should not feel any pain. If you do start experiencing pain in the feet or legs, come in and see our experienced podiatry team. You can book online here or call us on 1800 FOOTDR

 

[1] – https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/feature/workplace_health_wellness/2012/04/the-importance-of-stretching-in-the.html

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