5 ways to stretch out your aches and pains at home (PHOTOS)

May 1 2020, 9:27 am

Are you reading this from your laptop or your phone? Currently hunched over on your couch, or dare we say bed? If you are, then you’re probably no stranger to tech neck, slouching shoulders, and an achy lower back.

With many of us currently working from home, most without a proper office set-up, it’s inevitable that we’ll start feeling tight and sore muscles — especially if we’re also partaking in virtual online classes.

To help remedy your aches and pains at home, we spoke with Ian McWalter, an Elite Performance personal trainer who works with professional athletes, celebrities, and executives. Here are his top five stretches (plus how-to pics taken in self-isolation) to give your muscles a little TLC.

Neck and shoulder release

Neck and shoulder release (@ianmcfit/Instagram)

Our trap muscles — the muscles that lead from the shoulders to the neck — are under a lot of pressure throughout the day. “How we sit, sleep, and work can create tension in this area and lead to kinks in our neck, discomfort, and even headaches,” McWalter says.

To address any of the above, start in the seated position, with one hand placed on your lower back and the other placed on the opposite side of your head. Using the hand on your head, pull your head closer to your shoulder, looking straight ahead until you feel a stretch in your neck.

Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Chest stretch

Chest stretch (@ianmcfit/Instagram)

Let’s do a quick mirror check. Are your shoulders rolled forward? If they are, that’s probably because your pec muscles (the most powerful and dominant muscles in your upper body) are pulling them forward.

You’ll need to stand for this one. Place one hand on the corner of the wall at shoulder height. With that hand fixed, turn your whole body away from the wall until you feel a stretch. McWalter suggests playing around with the height of your hand, moving it up and holding to feel a difference, and potentially resulting in a deeper stretch.

Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Lower back stretch 

Lower back stretch (@ianmcfit/Instagram)

If you’ve practiced yoga, then you’ve probably dreamed about the moment your instructor tells you to find your way to child’s pose. Not only is this pose a reward for finishing a long sweaty flow session, but it’s also great for stretching the shoulders and relieving pressure off the lower back. Because chances are, you have some compression in those areas from sitting or standing for long periods of time.

First, grab a mat or something comfortable to rest your knees on. Start by kneeling, with your knees hip-width apart, and your feet together behind you. Then sit back on your heels (as comfortably as you can) and lower your belly, resting it between your thighs. Lastly, extend your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. If you want to deepen the stretch, gently press your chest and shoulders toward the ground.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Shoulder stretch

Shoulder stretch (@ianmcfit/Instagram)

If you want a more advanced stretch, this one’s for you. This exercise will bring your shoulders through a range of motion, giving you a deep stretch.

Start in the standing position. Hold a towel, scarf, or weightless bar with your hands as far apart as possible. Keep your elbows straight while your wrists are pointed forward, then bring the object in hand over your head, and behind your ears. You can lower it all the way down for a deeper stretch if your muscles allow you to.

Hold for 30 seconds, then return to the original position, and repeat 10 times.

Door stretch for lats

Door stretch for lats (@ianmcfit/Instagram)

“Tight lats — the large muscles located on the sides of your back — are often associated with back pain and shoulder issues,” McWalter says. If you’re experiencing any of those, follow the instructions below for another advanced stretch.

First, you’ll need to find a door frame. Start by standing in front of it (at roughly an arm’s length away). Using one arm, reach and grab the door with your thumb pointed downwards. Holding onto the frame, sit your hips back into a chair pose. Sit further into the stretch by letting gravity pull you back. You should feel the stretch on the outside of your upper body.

Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

“Stretching improves our quality of life and longevity. When combined with resistance exercise and cardio, the rewards are far greater,” says McWalter. Even just five minutes of stretching a day can make a noticeable difference, he suggests.

Aches and pain can keep us from feeling and performing at our optimal levels. But with these stretches, you can feel like your best pre-quarantine self again!