Jaclyn Fulop shares These Stretches that Will Help Prevent Back Pain While Working From Your Couch by Glam
As more and more people are working from home these days, we’re all trying to adjust to the new norm. And while some have a sophisticated home office setup — you know, with an actual desk and all — many of us are having to get creative on our couches. The problem? Too much couch sitting can take a toll on the body. Though comfortable, a couch lacks the support for proper posture, says Jaclyn Fulop, MSPT, a board licensed physical therapist and founder of .
“Using a laptop while sitting on a couch causes the shoulders to slouch forward,” Fulop explains. “Over time, this forward head posture can lead to muscle imbalances as the body tries to adapt and find ways to hold the head up. Some muscles become elongated and weakened, whereas other muscles become shorter and tighter, resulting in neck pain, herniated discs, pinched nerves, and poor posture.” Sitting on a couch for prolonged periods can also flatten the lumbar curvature and shorten the hip flexors and IT bands, increasing the likelihood of lower back pain, she adds.
The best way to prevent pain and discomfort is by purchasing an office chair and working from a table with your screen at eye level. Fulop recommends getting one with adjustable features like a backrest, armrests, and lumbar support. Otherwise, a dining room chair brings you closest to the proper ergonomic posture, she says. But if you must continue to work from your couch, keep your back straight, using pillows to support the spine, and feet flat on the floor with the hips and knees positioned at 90 degrees.
And perhaps most importantly, frequent stretching is a must if you’re sitting all day. “Proper stretching will improve posture, align the shoulders, and restore the curvature in the spine while preventing musculoskeletal imbalances,” says Fulop. “I always tell my patients that they should adjust their position every 20 minutes, even if it is just to stand up and stretch the body backwards.” That’s because a muscle knot can take 20 minutes to form if the body stays in a static position.
So, to get started, Fulop shares the four sitting stretches she prescribes to prevent neck, shoulder, and lower back discomfort when working from home.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
This is an excellent stretch for anyone who has been sitting all day, as it relieves tightness in the upper back, arms, and neck. Sit up straight in a chair with your head and neck in a neutral position, ears in line with shoulders, and hold the edge of your chair with your right hand. Tuck your chin in slightly, grab the right side of your head with your left hand, and gently pull your head to the left while looking straight ahead. Use gentle pressure to increase the stretch, Fulop says, but don’t force your head into position. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then return your head and neck to a neutral position. Do two repetitions on each side.