Aucklanders: All things going as planned, we're just over halfway into the second COVID-19 alert level 3 lockdown, and it's about now the novelty is definitely wearing off.
You may be experiencing some of the major qualms that come with being shut up at home all day like anxiety, boredom, or in my case, the resurgence of the awful neck and back pain I suffered from during the first lockdown.
Back in March, we gave some tips and tricks to switching up your working from home setup, to help correct the rounded posture many of us were developing the first time around.
Personally, I put many of those into place, but have to admit I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to fixing the pinch. Do I have a perfectly good desk to sit in front of my screen at a pre-determined height? Yes! Do I use it? Of course not.
Instead, I cart my laptop from couch to kitchen and even occasionally to bed, resulting in the sorest neck known to humankind. The ongoing tension over the uncertainty of the unknown doesn't help either.
If you are also struggling from tense "tech neck", first make sure you have your WFH setup as good as it can be. But there are also some exercises that can be done after the workday to really help treat those aching muscles. Bonus: You'll be able to take some deep breaths while doing these, which often can further help tension and pain.
This one works best with a proper yoga block, but a stack of small books will do. Place the block onto its second setting and lie back with it positioned under your neck. The edge of the block should be just where your neck and skull meet. Super slowly, turn your head gently from side-to-side. The block will help massage out the tension, performing myofascial release on the muscle. During the turning of your head, there should be a point where it really sticks: stop and allow the block to sit there. This one feels like heaven after a long day.
Hot tip: Once out of lockdown, head along to your yoga class a little before it starts so you can have a go with one of the studio's blocks if you don't have one yourself.
Stretch it out
Once you've done your Myofascial release with the block, it's time to perform some simple stretches to further stretch your now loosened muscles. UK physiotherapist Marc Holl gave Yahoo some stretches he says are best to help work out the kinks at the end of the day. The easiest and best one for the lower back is to lie on the ground, drawing the knees up into the chest. You can rock gently from side to side, or stay still and allow the ground to massage out the lower back. For tense shoulders, performing a simple forward fold from standing is also a great one to allow the neck and shoulders to release - focus on letting your shoulders relax away from the ears.
All things going well, Aucklanders will be out of lockdown at some point next week and that means it's a great chance to support local massage therapists that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you just have some general stiffness, take 15 minutes to treat yourself to a quick neck and shoulder rub at one of the many shopping mall massage clinics - they do a very decent job considering the cost.
If you're feeling pretty wrecked, you're going to need something more intensive.
Here are some of my faves:
- Skinography: The Fix massage. A sports-inspired high-touch, deep tissue massage which uses acupressure to stimulate lymphatic and circulatory systems. It Improves range of motion and reduces recovery time - perfect if, like me, you can barely turn your neck right now.
- Golden Fingers: Golden Deep Tissue. Not for the faint of heart, this traditional Thai massage uses slow strokes, deep muscle compression, as well as stretching and acupressure to help rid you of tension and pain.
- The Facialist: Back, Neck and Shoulder. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this relaxing massage will get into those spots that have suffered the most during lockdown. Double points if your therapist uses the hot stones to melt away any added tension - the best feeling especially on a miserable Auckland day.