If you’ve spent the pandemic working from home, you are one of the lucky ones, in a time when so many people have lost jobs or needed to worry about the virus while on the clock. And staying home definitely has its perks—no commute, not needing to wear real clothes.
But your body may feel differently. It could be working from a not-super-ergonomic couch or just multiple days in a row with a triple-digit step count, but many work-from-home warriors are wondering if we’ve somehow aged 10 years in 6 months, dealing with bodily gripes like lower back pain, stiff joints, and overall achiness.
“One under-appreciated consequence how your typical movements throughout the day—trips to the bathroom, going to grab lunch—have decreased substantially,” says Luke Greenberg, DPT, co-founder of Motiv NY. “To counter this, it’s beneficial to integrate a movement routine that checks off some of the biggest areas taking a postural beating during lazy days—the neck, thoracic spine and ribs, and hip flexors.”
Getting some regular movement sounds simple enough, right? Still, execution is all about priorities. We caught up with four highly-productive guys to ask them how they’ve stayed mobile and staved off quarantine-related aches in 2020.
1. Use the Buddy System.
Nick Urteaga, Photographer, Los Angeles
“For me, it’s all about scheduling. It’s so easy to put off workouts and stay in bed until 10 A.M., which is why I’ve integrated the buddy system into my routine lately. Lucky for me, I have a roommate who can hold me accountable to sticking to a schedule, and because of that, I’m moving more regularly which helps me get out of any quarantine funk. When my roommate’s not around, having my dog as a buddy helps, too. I always say my dog takes me for walks, not the other way around.”
2. Make an Excuse to Leave.
Matt Lombardi, Founder of Beam, Boston
“My recent thing (aside from making sure to work out and meditate) is when I have 30 to 45 minutes between calls or Zooms is to head to a local juice shop. I love the place that I go to, but it’s really more about just getting up, moving my body, listening to music, and de-stressing.”
3. Use Those Recovery Tools.
Dan Churchill, Chef and owner of Charley St, New York
“What’s really important for me is to make time for mobility training and to be really specific, using my Theragun. I’m constantly bending down in the kitchen, looking under things, picking up things, and as a result get really stiff. So, I always make time to use my Theragun before my workouts in the morning and after I finish work at night, particularly around my hips and lower back.”
4. Make Mobility Work Part of Your Routine.
Jake Boly, CSCS MS, Co-founder of Pheasyque Lab
“I do 10 minutes of mobility work right after waking up, just before lunch, and then another 30 minutes prior to going to bed. I do one or two movements on each joint and change these routinely to keep it fresh. So that could be doing some standing calf stretching, hip hinges or dynamic hamstring stretches, modified pigeons, thoracic rotations, and doorway stretches. Basically, do a body scan, and perform some work on each joint that feels good and challenges you. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, which means it’s hard to make an excuse for skipping it.”
5. Stretch your back.
Phillip Higgins, DPT at Bespoke Treatments, Seattle
“I’m a physical therapist who is used to moving all day, so sitting and staring at a screen for telehealth visits was a pretty drastic change. Even with the perfect ergonomic setup, sitting or standing in the same place for eight hours a day can be problematic. Movement is key—ideally you’ll have a space where you can change from sitting to standing, standing to kneeling or even lying down.” But even a short stretch between Zooms can really helpful: “I do a thoracic extension with the back of my chair,” he says. (That’s the portion of your spine in your upper back.) “To do it, sit upright. Then, looking up towards the ceiling, bend backwards over the chair until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for a few seconds, return to your starting position, and repeat for about a minute.”
6. Equip in your space.
Nick Diodato, talent manager, Los Angeles
“I’m definitely more efficient and productive when I’m standing. But hardwood living room floors are tough of the body on for extended periods of time, so my makeshift standing desk was causing more harm than good. I started quarantine cushioned with four yoga mats, but eventually I leveled up to a real-deal cashier’s mat for the long haul. It’s the best decision I’ve made recently for my productivity and body.”
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