So, you’re already past step one. You’ve hurt your back/neck from extended sitting, scribbling notes all night, forcing words out till long past your bedtime. What do you do now?
Well, since I’m one of you, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need a yogi or a fitness instructor to help with stiff necks or backs. You can do it all in the comfort of your own home.*
Start the day with five of these. This yoga warm-up exercise will not only get you limber and ready to start the day, it’ll stretch your back and neck (and all other parts of your body) without hurting it. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a great short break from writing if you’re stuck. If I could only recommend one exercise, this is the one I’d choose.
Luckily, I can recommend more. The second thing I want you to do is stand up straight, breathe deeply and just roll your shoulders. First roll the right shoulder backwards, followed by the left. Repeat 10 times. Then roll right/left shoulder forwards 10 times, then roll both shoulders backwards at once, and lastly, roll both forwards.
Now that you’re all limber and ready, it’s time to challenge yourself. Try a bridge. It’ll stretch out your back and push your shoulders back (which is great if you’re one of those people, like me, who rounds their shoulders forward when they write on the computer). If you can’t do a bridge right away, start with a modified bridge. If you find doing a bridge easy, then it might be time to attempt a one-legged bridge or a one-armed bridge. Do a bridge as usual, relax, remember your slow breathing and keeping your shoulders low, gently shift your weight to the left and lift your right leg. Stretch it straight out and hold. Do the same for right arm, left arm and left leg.
Another way to challenge yourself is to attempt the standing yoga pose The Crow. It’s a good way to ground yourself and to square your shoulders. Plus, it works your core.
The most important thing you can do to prevent injury is to stretch. I just learned a great shoulder stretch. Stand up straight. Put your arms in front of you. Rest your left elbow on your right arm at the point where your lower arm hits your upper arm. Try to interlace your fingers and then push your left shoulder blade backwards. Feel the stretch? Good. Hold it. Then repeat on the right.
Finally, it’s time for some back stretches. Start with the well-known child’s pose from yoga. Rest back on your knees, lean forwards and rest your forehead on the ground. Like so. Rest there for at least 30 seconds.
Then lie on your back, hug your knees to your chest and roll gently left/right and forth/back. Let your weight massage your back into the ground. Lie your legs back on the floor, stretch your arms out along the floor. Breathe here. End on this.
And that’s it!
Remember that you can do any and/or all of these exercises whenever you want throughout the day. The most important thing to do is to avoid becoming too stationary. Also remember that these are just a few examples. Use your body. Try stuff you find fun and challenging. If you have an exercise you want to try but you’re unsure whether or not it’s good for your back/neck, feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to advice you on it.
This is the latest thing I like to do when I’m stuck. It ain’t pretty, but it sure makes me believe I can do anything.
*Disclaimer: if you have sharp, immediate pain go see a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Listen to your body. If you feel like it’s getting worse from any of these exercises, consider seeing a physician.