As we continue to find ourselves working from home at the start of 2022, the importance of at
home exercises to combat postural strain remains important.

Most commonly we see patients complaining of upper back pain and stiffness.
Whilst neck and upper back pain and stiffness has been prevalent across office workers prior to
COVID, there has been a significant surge in this complaint since the WFH ergonomic set ups have been crammed into the home in less than ideal circumstances.

Some issues we commonly see amongst desk bound workers include:
– Stiffness in the upper back
– Muscular aches along the upper back and shoulder blades
– Pressing sensation and sharp pains along the ribs and tightness with breathing
– Shoulder and neck tightness and stiffness
– Chronic neck pain leading to headaches.
– Wrist, elbow pain and or numbness or pins & needles into the fingers

Typically, this is caused by;
1. Stiffness from sitting too long
2. Poor posture, bad ergonomics
3. Lack of movement
And so the key message is as always, we need to move. Move regularly, and often and changing your posture with regular breaks will reduce the strain from long bouts of the same sitting posture.

Remember, movement does not have to be strenuous!

Here are three effective exercises to help combat the onset of upper back strain & stiffness leading to complaints as per above.
1. Thread the needle

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2. Open closed book

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These two exercises promote rotation of the back and movement through the ribs. This is a
movement that is often restricted with upper back complaints.
Both of these exercises should be performed SLOWLY with control to feel the stretch.
Add a slow deep inhalation & exhalation at the same time for aded effect, as well as relaxation.
Let’s aim to do these 10-12 times each side at least twice per day, but more is better.

3. YTW’S

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The third exercises involve strengthening the muscles across the upper back whilst working on
mobility also.. Often these muscles are the source of pain and stiffness. Regular strengthening of  these muscles will assist in sustaining a sitting posture pain free as the stronger muscles will be able to greater resist the urge to slouch.
Try this exercise above – lying on your stomach and starting off by having your shoulders in a Y
position. Squeeze the shoulder blades as you are retracting your shoulders. Hold this for 3-5 seconds before changing your arm position to the T position and repeat the same contraction. Again, repeat this with the W positioning of the arms. If this is too difficult, try it in a sitting position to begin with, or place a cushion under your chest.

Finally, and most importantly, good working posture requires regular movement.
We hope you find these helpful.
And if you experience continuous pain, please come and see your Osteopath for an assessment and treatment to help restore your pain free mobility.