Working from home: Yoga poses for back pain
Thursday, April 16, 2020

While the country gets to grips with the COVID-19 crisis, many of us are having to adapt to working from home.

As we make desks out of our kitchen tables and counters, being hunched over a laptop at home (probably at the wrong height and without access to our ergonomic office chairs) for hours on end is not doing your back any good.

Why am I experiencing back pain?

While there are many causes of back pain, it can be caused by prolonged periods of time in the one position without moving. The problem is not how you are sitting, but rather too much sitting in one go. The reason you are experiencing pain is most likely because too much pressure is being put onto one part of the spine.

How can I help that?

What you want to do is lengthen and strengthen the spine to prevent further damage and release the pressure.

The most effective thing to do is to break up your inactivity with exercise as this is shown to be the most effective strategy to prevent back pain, according to the CSP. If you are struggling with lower back pain while working from home, yoga might just be the answer.

What yoga exercises can we do to ease lower back pain?

1. Downward Dog

  • Create an upside-down V shape with your body, with your hands and feet on the ground
  • Allow your legs to bend ever so slightly and raise your bottom towards the ceiling
  • This will create more space for the spine to lengthen and stretch the hamstrings

2. Half Dog

  • Bring your knees to the ground and make sure your hips are lined up over them
  • Bring your hands forward and allow the forehead to touch the ground in between your outstretched arms
  • This has similar benefits to Downward Dog but is easier on the hands, arms and shoulders

3. Cat, Cow

  • Get onto your hands and knees
  • Inhale and lift your tailbone and your head – looking up at the ceiling and arching the spine
  • Exhale and drop your head and tailbone back down, pushing up into your mid-back, rounding your spine
  • Repeat this 10 times
  • This is great to get some movement into the spine and release the lower back

4. Child’s Pose

  • Get on all fours. From this position, bring the knees slightly wider apart, so that your big toes touch behind you
  • Bring your hips back towards the heels – they don’t need to touch the heels but keep bringing them back and down
  • Stretch the arms out in front of you and bring your head to touch the ground between your arms
  • Stay in this position with your eyes closed for 10 long, slow breaths
  • This is great to release the lower back, as well as being very calming

Bonus tips

  • If you are working from a laptop you may find it more comfortable working at a table, so you can see your monitor with more ease and comfort
  • A chair that provides some support for your lower back (you could add a cushion or two) and your screen near eye level is best.
  • Aim for regular breaks every 30-60 minutes. Two minutes of activity – a quick walk around or putting the washing out – can help break up sitting times
  • Sitting too long can lead to other health concerns such as diabetes
  • Aim to be physically active every day – this should total to 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week

Information from CSP and Google (2020)