Work-from-home Woes: Relieve Back Pain From Sitting All Day With These 7 Yoga Poses

Work-from-home Woes: Relieve Back Pain From Sitting All Day With These 7 Yoga Poses
Image by @yanalya / Freepik

Working from home may have kept us physically distant and safe from COVID-19, but sitting in front of the computer all day every day has given rise to another health concern: lower back pain. The furniture we use at home, like dining chairs and side tables (and sometimes the couch or the bed) may not be ergonomically designed for this purpose, thus our backs bear the brunt of working for long periods of time.

Practicing gentle yoga poses is the best way to find relief from back aches and discomfort. Says Fred Busch, a yoga instructor and author from Michigan, USA, “Yoga poses are meant to train the body to be healthy and supple. Consistent practice and application will result in improved posture and an increased sense of balance, with head, shoulders and pelvis in proper alignment.”

Carina Silerio, founder of Flow and Recovery and a certified yoga instructor, shares with three accessible yoga poses that address the lower back problem. These are perfect for beginners and can even be done while seated in front of your desk.

Chair exercises

1. Seated Side Stretch

  • Ground both feet on the floor. Hold one side of the chair for stability while slowly raising the other arm above your head.
  • Inhale, lengthen the spine, and exhale. Then, bend over to the opposite side and hold that pose for 5 breaths. Go back to the center and switch sides.

2. Seated Twist

  • Sit on your chair with your spine tall and straight. Place your right hand outside your left thigh. Inhale, lengthen the spine, and exhale.
  • Rotate yourself into a slightly deeper twist stretch and turn your neck slowly over your shoulder at chin level. Hold for 5 breaths and release to center. Pause for two breaths and repeat on the other side.

3. Seated Pigeon

  • Sit on the edge of your chair and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. You can also hold the sides of the chair for support. Fold your leg and place your right ankle on top of your left knee while letting your right knee relax out to the side and keeping your foot flexed.
  • Sit up tall and inhale. When you start exhaling, lean forward and move your spine to a 45-degree angle while holding the sides of the chair and breathing five times.
  • Lean back to the center and do the other side.

“Try [adding] this to your daily routine and see how it helps you in a week. [You can] do it two times a day for a 5-minute stretch during your breaks,” Carina adds.

Mat exercises

Allan Enriquez, a yoga instructor and fitness coach, says that there are yoga poses that can help to decompress and relax your back:

  1. Cat-cow pose

    “This pose helps in [the] dynamic movement of the back, warming up the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine,” Allan says.

  2. Bridge pose

    “This helps to relieve the lower back, especially the hip and hip joints.”

    He recommends holding for three to five breaths in each pose and doing it for two to three times a week, for starters.

    Meanwhile, Athena Jimeno, a yoga instructor at Ananda Marga Yoga Center, suggests the following poses as a way to strengthen your spine and muscles to help relieve back pain.

  3. Child pose.

    “This helps in stretching the spine especially the lower back in a gentle way. Stay [for] as long as you are comfortable or a minimum of five to ten breaths,” she says.

  4. Snake pose.

    “This extends and strengthens the muscles that protect the spine. For the snake pose, stay for at least 8 counts.”

She also advises to always be aware of your posture, and to keep your back straight as much as possible.


How to prevent body pains while working from home

Svenja Lindau, a yoga instructor, shares these do’s and don’ts:

  • Use a table with appropriate height. “Find a working height where your elbows will naturally fall flush with your table’s height, as this will promote better wrist alignment.”
  • Use an office chair, if possible. “[The] adjustable features of an office chair will save you from lumbar and neck discomfort.”
  • Don’t turn your couch into a workstation. “As tempting as it is, a couch is not an optimal space [for working]. Although, it may seem comfortable, having your legs or full body in a vertical position can lead to muscle numbness and discomfort.”
  • Don’t hunch over your laptop. “Your eye line should be level with the address bar of your web browser.”
  • Don’t skip lunch and make sure to stay hydrated. “Making a meal and staying hydrated gives you the opportunity to stand up, walk around, and let your eyes have a rest from the computer screen.”

IMPORTANT: If you have a history of lower back injuries or any issues that require medical attention, it is better to consult your physician first before doing any exercises.

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