Chiropractor shares simple stretches you can do while working from home

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) It's been weeks of working from home in a setup that may have stressed out people's necks and backs.

Local chiropractors say there is a right way and a wrong way to fix it.

If your back and neck pain persists after you feel you've done all the right things, like lifting a laptop to eye level, investing in an external keyboard and mouse and closing the curtains to prevent glare, a local chiropractor says you might have forgotten one critical component: consistent movement.

Makeshift work areas with less than ideal seating have led to more patients for Drs. Eric and Vicki Hemmett with Hemmett Health.

That's why Dr. Vicki suggests setting up three different types of ergonomic work stations and recommends changing positions every couple of hours.

"One standing desk, one sitting desk and maybe something a little more creative like a balance board or sitting on an exercise ball, too," she said.

She recommends changing positions every couple of hours.

"We're not used to staring at a screen all day long and what happens is we get fatigues, and when we get fatigued, inevitably our posture weakens and kind of changes. So if you're sitting at a desk you have a tendency to kind of roll forward. So if you change by switching to an exercise ball, you're utilizing different muscles. You're activating more of the core versus being more focused on your posture up through here. And then when you switch to standing you're also kind of more focused on glute activation and your legs," she said.

Hemmett says you should supplement that habit by weaving in stretch breaks.

"It's so easy, and a little goes a long way," she said.

She says you can spend as little as 60 seconds or so stretching out your neck or back, then returning to your work, right from the comfort of your chair.

Hemmett says simple exercises throughout the day will get blood pumping into muscles that remain sedentary for long periods of time, like wall pushups.

If your muscles still feel tight, you can use household items to break up knots. Rather than this tool, you can grab a rolling pin or take a tennis or baseball to dig into the back.

Hemmett says it's these small adjustments in your routine that'll make all the difference in how you feel working from home.

"Where we're not driving in our vehicles, we're actually gaining time by not commuting, and so you can use that time to really focus on your health, to really focus on a great exercise program, even before you set up for the day," said Hemmett.

Hemmett says because you're not commuting to work, you can utilize that extra time in your schedule to figure out which kinds of movement make you feel best.

"You have to just kind of remember things that you would normally do in an office situation is that you would be wearing shoes, you would be kind of moving around for lunch and moving around for bathroom breaks and that kind of thing," said Hemmett.

For a video tutorial on the exercises and stretches, click here.

If you'd like a free printable version, that can be accessed here.