News - 8th June 2020

Every minute of movement helps


Even one minute of movement is beneficial to our health and wellbeing.


Laura Penhaul, Lead Physiotherapist for British Sailing, explains how we can integrate strength and mobility exercises into our everyday lives.


Our lives have changed in many ways due to Covid-19 and, for many of us, this could mean spending much more time at home. Your usual daily commute might have involved walking to the bus or train/tube station, running or cycling to the office, walking up the stairs or escalators, or walking to a cafe to get some lunch.


Now that your home may also be your office it could mean that you are moving your body less and sitting down a lot more. It may also mean that those who don’t have a ‘proper’ office at home may be working from a bed or sofa with a computer on their lap, or on stools or chairs that are not conducive to sitting on for a whole working day.


Some people may be experiencing neck and lower back pain due to sitting more and in poor postures. Whatever a person’s level of activity, or physical fitness, now more than ever, it is important that we try to integrate movement and mobility exercises into our lives, even for a few minutes each day, to help prevent or minimise pain or discomfort and nurture overall health.


A few simple steps you can take are to:


  • Have a 45min work:15min move ratio, meaning you do 45 minutes of work then 15 minutes of movement, even to make a cup of tea, go up and down some stairs or walk around the house or garden. If you can’t manage 15 minutes, any amount of movement is beneficial. Just having a physical and mental break from sitting down and working can be helpful.
  • If you are maintaining an 8 hour work day, then maybe you can plan a longer period of movement in the middle of the day, with a few shorter breaks either side. You could use this time to go for a longer walk, a run, a cycle ride or maybe do some of the exercises below.
  • If you are on a work call can you talk whilst walking around (even better, can you do this outside?), can you stand instead of sit, can you stretch whilst you have the conversation?
  • Find clothing that allows you to move freely throughout the day.
  • Reach and stretch your arms overhead at least a couple of times an hour, with a few deep breathing exercises thrown in for good measure.


Here are a few really simple exercises you can do whilst sitting.


Pelvis rock


Try a simple pelvic movement to move your lower back. Keeping your chest tall, rock your pelvis forwards and back so you roll on your sit bones.


Glute stretch


Placing your right ankle on your left knee, keeping your chest tall, rock your pelvis forwards, over your hip to feel the stretch in your right glute/buttock. Repeat on the other side.


Glute stretch


Chest/thoracic rotation


Keeping the chest tall, twist to the right and left, focusing the movement from your chest bone/ sternum.




Chest side flexion


Chest side flexion with arm reaches up and over. Try and grow long through the right side by driving the right hip down as you reach your right fingertips up and over, repeat on the other side.


Chest flex


Now for some mobility movements that you can do to ‘move’ your body out of a chair position and regain some height and extensibility through your hips, chest and shoulders. Don’t worry if you don’t have a mat, a towel or carpet will do just as well.


Quad stretch


Quad stretch in split kneeling, progress to adding arm up and over and/or combine with rotation in a yoga lunge with rotation position.


Quad stretch



Glute stretch


Glute stretch with knee support on your front. Keep your hips level and your knee should be about a 90 degree angle so that your shin is parallel to the top of the mat. Progress with straightening the back leg and bringing it in to midline. You could also go onto your elbows.







Use a ‘peanut’ (made out of two tennis balls taped together) to mobilise the middle of your back. Lying on your back with knees bent, taking your arms out to the side and up over your head, keeping your arms on the floor and your breathing relaxed throughout.






Hands and knees reach through to encourage rotation in your upper back, rotate from your chest bone/sternum.


hands and knees


Side lying


Side lying with arm opening will help to open out your chest. Rotate from your chest bone/sternum, remember it’s not about how far you reach your arm, just feel the rotation in the back.


Side lying


Leg swings


Leg swings lying on your back, trying your best to keep the backs of your shoulders on the floor.


LEg swings


Sit backs


Hands and knees sit backs, take your chest bone/sternum to floor.


hands knees


Yoga is great for stretching and mobility, and many different classes can be found online, for free or for purchase. However I would highly recommend following a physiotherapist who has specialised in yoga, because they will couple the movements in a safe pattern, so it doesn’t over stress parts of your neck or lower back.


For example, some ashtanga yoga flows can require excessive backward bends and if you have an underlying issue in your back then this can be exacerbated.


I hope this has given you a flavour of some of the simple exercises you might think about doing at home to help you maintain or develop strength and flexibility, and integrate a bit of movement and mobility into your daily or weekly routine.


Please don’t think that you have to block out a long period of time to do these exercises either, a minute or two each day is really beneficial to your health and wellbeing.


Laura Penhaul

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