For months now, poring over phone and tablet screens for work, Zoom meetings and communication in general has been the norm. The quarantine lifestyle hasn’t exactly made health maintenance easy, but it has certainly highlighted its importance. The near-constant shoulder and back hunch created by this transition to virtual-style work and meetings takes a significant toll on our bodies, and the need to stretch regularly may not always be at the front of our minds. 

The posture most of us maintain while on a phone or computer for hours on end encourages one very destructive position: shoulders slumped forward, chest caved, a curve in the upper back, belly relaxed and forward. It’s a simple truth that how we hold our bodies during times of inactivity is how our bodies will naturally hold as we get up and move about throughout the day.

So what can be done to combat the ever-unflattering Quasimodo stance? Move. Move as correctly, and as often, as possible. Start by working these simple motions into your day-to-day life.

  • Try simple upper back bends. Do these 2-3 times a day for 5-7 reps. Squeeze the shoulder blades together, tip the chin toward the sky (or ceiling) and stick your chest out to press the spine in forward. 

  • Work upper back exercises into your fitness routine. Stand up and, using weights or just your own body weight, reach the arms forward with the palms down. Draw your elbows back squeezing tight between the shoulder blades, pushing them towards each other. Try 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Strengthening the upper back will support your spine in a tall position.

  • Sit tall. Pretend like there’s a string attached to the top of your head, pulling you toward the sky. It sounds simple, but when unaccustomed to this activity, it can feel almost like a workout. In fact, it kind of is. The mid-back support muscles, which might be weak after months of slumping over, are being worked.

  • Work on your core. Planks keep the spine long while working the front and back of the midsection. Not used to them? Start with one standing at the counter, move to one on the knees and when you’re ready, move to that full plank on the floor. Try 2 a day for 60 seconds each.

  • Get up and move. Move as much as possible. If you can put earbuds in and walk around during meetings, do it. Take a walk during your lunch break. At the very least, stand up and walk for 5 minutes once every hour.