Even Remote Workers Need to Stretch Out
PUBLISHED: Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Even Remote Workers Need to Stretch Out 

While many states are now allowing at least some “nonessential” businesses to reopen, a sizable chunk of our nation’s workforce are still doing their jobs from home. Some of the immediate impacts of that shift are unknown; data is still inconclusive about how remote work impacts the productivity and mental health of workers. However, we know that sitting for too long—whether it’s at home or in the office—is not good for the human body, especially when traditional chairs are involved. What follows are several stretches that are well-suited to at-home workdays.

Shoulder Stretches

For folks who spend a large part of their workday on a computer—a category that probably includes most remote workers—shoulders are one of the three key muscle groups to stretch. To that end there are two simple and closely related movements that will serve most people very well. The first involves interlacing the fingers stretching the arms upward toward the ceiling, palms facing up. This works the muscles in the shoulders, upper back, sides, and chest. The second movement is almost identical, but instead of interlacing the fingers and pointing the palms skyward, the hands are left apart, and fingertips point to the sky. This works most of the same muscle groups but gives an additional opportunity to flex the wrists and stretch the hands.

Back Stretches

In addition to shoulders, the lower back muscles should also be stretched regularly throughout the day. The simplest and most direct movement for that purpose is the Half Downward Dog, adapted from the yoga pose of the same name. The stretch involves placing your palms down on a chair back or countertop, then stepping backward to elongate the spine and stretch the back. The arms and back should be kept straight and parallel to the ground for maximum effectiveness.

Wrist Stretches

Finally, for people who spend most of their day typing or otherwise working on a computer, stretching the wrists is vital. The first shoulder stretch detailed above—the one with interlaced fingers and palms pointing skyward—incorporates an excellent wrist stretch, but the wrists can also be moved in isolation from other muscle groups. One of the easiest is to use one hand to gently push the fingers on the other hand down toward the forearm, although care must be taken not to overextend the motion. The wrists should also be rolled around periodically to exercise the full range of motion.

Following these simple stretching routines will help keep your body limber and healthy through long hours of sitting to work, whether that’s at home or in an office environment.