Penrose Physical Therapy in Olympia Gives Tips for Easing Pain and Stiffness While Teleworking

Submitted by Jennifer Penrose of Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

Many of us are sitting too much. Sitting is the new smoking. With gyms limiting access and requiring masks while exercising we are finding that people are not as active. We are finding people are spending more time on social media, zoom calls/work calls, teleworking, playing virtual games with friends etc. Many have noticed increased stiffness and aches in the hips, neck, back, etc. from this lack of movement and exercise and too much sitting.

Door way pec chest stretch. Photo courtesy: Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

I would recommend the following tips to avoid stiffness and pain from prolonged sitting:

  • You can watch this 4 min stretch routine on our YouTube channel, Penrose PT.
  • Set a timer to go off at 20 minutes, or drink lots of water frequently to force you to get up more.
  • Get up and take a brisk short walk.
  • Do several sit to stand chair squats. Go for 10x in 30 seconds
  • Do some posture stretches (yoga type) that you can do standing up – open up your chest.
  • Go do some wall push ups or chair push ups.
  • Do some leg stretches for your hips due to sitting too long.
  • Stretch your shoulders up overhead for a full body stretch.
  • Do some shoulder blade squeezes and shoulder rolls to ease tension in your neck.
  • Do some stationary lunges and squats if your knees don’t bother you.

Those should only take about 5 minutes to go through. Hydration helps you more often and it is good for your muscles, joints, and your whole body. Most of us do not drink enough fluids.

Seated in chair shoulder chest stretch . Photo courtesy: Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

Other important ergonomic tips while working on a computer:

  • Keep your elbows by your sides at all times.
  • Working with your elbows extended/straight will pull on the nerves in your neck, increase shoulder pain, elbow pain and even carpal tunnel.
  • Keep your head from protruding forward – keep your ear lined up over your shoulder and create that straight line from your ear down to your hip.
  • If you are reaching for your mouse (elbow not at side) then you will have increase pain in that arm/shoulder/neck over time.
  • Keep your upper shoulders relaxed, rest your arms on arm rests or you will build tension in your neck and upper back all day.
  • Make sure your chair fits you correctly with feet on the floor and back rest supporting your back in a good posture that keeps your back relaxed (do not perch yourself at edge of chair).
  • If your back slouches you will hurt later. Use a lumbar roll to support your back so your back can “rest” and you quit overusing your back muscles.
  • Keep monitor up at eye level and make sure you use dual monitors and increase font size if needed.
  • Get your eyes checked and use glasses that filter blue light to prevent headaches and neck/head pain from eye strain.
  • Use the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain and worsening vision from computer usage.

To help you all with establishing a new healthy exercise routine during Covid-19 we are offering a free 15 minute consultation/screening to find out what areas you are most challenged with. We will test your strength, flexibility, balance, posture, walking/running and then have the option to work with us further to set up a program for you to do at home. We are wearing masks and face shields and we have more than enough space to spread out. You will be in large open space with the provider.

Get correct posture while on a computer using a lumbar roll (it’s black so you can’t see well that I’m sitting against) but you can see that my arms are on arm rests and the mouse and keypad are all very close and my elbows stay in at my sides and my ear is right above my shoulder so I’m not showing forward head posture. Photo courtesy: Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

Who is this best suited for?

  • You are struggling with developing a focused workout routine at home.
  • You are not sure what your top three areas are to work on.
  • You want to take advantage of this time at home to get your strength or balance ready for upcoming plans and travels.
  • You want some accountability to advance your program and check that you are doing the exercises correctly to ensure success.
  • You are nervous to return to the gym any time soon.
  • You don’t want to get hurt doing online classes.

So yes we have very little control over COVID-19 and our new restrictions on travel and plans and social gatherings, but we can control how much we sit and what we do with the time that has been given to us at home. Make the most of it so you are feeling good and ready to go!

We at Penrose Physical Therapy are happy to help you with establishing a home fitness routine that will allow you to be ready for travel and visiting others again. Email us at and visit Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy website or call 360-456-1444.

We are located less than three miles from Jubilee across from Walmart in the Harborstone Credit Union building. We also have free neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain and balance reports on our website and you can download your free tips reports immediately. We are happy to help in this difficult time.

Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy
1445 Galaxy Dr. Suite 301, Lacey

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