6 simple stretches to relieve neck and back pain from poor posture

Back pain in your area? After too much working from home and poor posture over the past few months, we invite sports recovery therapist, Lucia Tam, to guide us through six simple stretches to get rid of our return-to-office body aches.

Call me nostalgic, but I do miss the simpler times when my only problem was tired eyes from reading too much. Thanks to Instagram, emails and slower metabolism, my eye fatigue evolved into a series of different kinds of pains throughout my body. Returning to the office after the fifth wave of the pandemic only made matters worse as I sit in various poor postures all day, bowing down my head to stare at screens (while snacking on the side).

Thankfully I’ve found a cure to my body aches before working at the office got too painful. Previously, I’ve tried everything from chiropractors to acupuncture and some ancient Chinese technique of slapping your bones. The effects did not last — until I came across Lucia Tam.

After being named a ballroom dance champion in Canada and voted best instructor at Pure Fitness Hong Kong, Lucia started BounceLimit, the first fitness centre in town with a rebounder (aka trampolines) program. Noticing a lack of attention for correct postures and injury recovery, she changed her direction to sports recovery to educate people on how to take care of their bodies while hitting fitness goals. 

In one-on-one sessions, Lucia works out the root cause behind her clients’ pains and reworks their habits and muscular structure with trigger point therapy to release stiffness, followed by strengthening workouts to create long-term recovery. She has helped clients who survived car crashes to avoid surgeries, and enabled others with chronic pain to resume their lives. For me, she’s been like magic.

To help all of us ease back into the 9-to-5 life, Lucia offers us an exercise of six simple stretches that anyone can easily do to relieve pain in their neck and lower back — extremely helpful after too many months WFB (working from bed).

3 stretches to release your stiff neck (swipe through for examples):

​​1. Side neck stretch 

  1. Bring your right shoulder down 
  2. Take your left arm over your head and while facing forward and gently pull your head down to the left side for 10 seconds
  3. Lift your chest up, and sit up tall and straight
  4. Repeat with the right arm

2. Posterior neck stretch 

  1. Take your hands behind your head and bring your shoulders away from your ears
  2. Gently tuck your chin down to your neck
  3. Extend your torso high and breathe for 10 seconds
  4. Slowly release

3. Front neck stretch 

  1. Place your hand between your neck and shoulder, above the collarbone on the same side
  2. Grip and pull your hands downwards, slightly tugging at the skin 
  3. Lift your jaw line up towards the ceiling and feel the pull in the front side of your neck 
  4. Count to 10 and release
  5. Repeat on the other side

3 stretches to release your lower back (swipe through for examples):

1. Hamstring stretch 

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, extend your right leg out and reach your arms forward as far as you can
  2. Lean forward as much as you can without bending the knees and try to press your chest to your knee
  3. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side

2. Upward pigeon 

  1. Lie down face up, bend right leg across the left thigh
  2. Bend left knee and slide arms to either side of the left leg
  3. Clasp your hands around the left thigh and pull it towards your chest
  4. Try to keep your head on the floor and lengthen your back
  5. Hold for 10 seconds or longer and repeat on the other side 

3. Quad stretch 

  1. Kneel down, place your hands behind your bum on the floor
  2. Lean back slightly and lift your hips up to the ceiling as much as you can
  3. Pull your abs in so your lower back doesn’t pinch, and breathe
  4. Hold for 30 seconds or longer

Do each exercise at least once, and repeat if needed.

(Warning: There likely will be pain when you stretch. It is appropriate to maintain a pain threshold around 7-8 out of 10 to lengthen your muscles — 10 being the most painful. Stop if the pain level reaches 10 and if you feel chronic pain or other non-muscle pain.)

Watch the full video tutorial on Instagram at @lifestyleasiahk.

For one-on-one sessions, please contact Lucia Tam at @iamluuuchia or +852 4647-1174.