REDUCING NECK AND BACK PAIN WHEN AT HOME
Tid Bits of Info
- Bad posture places abnormal stresses on your body and can cause neck and back pain.
- Bad posture can lead to an increased amount of fatigue and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood due to a decrease in breathing efficiency.
- Poor head/neck posture can lead to head aches and jaw pain.
- Poor low back posture can have an adverse effect on sexual function.
- Seek the advice and treatment from a Physical Therapist if you develop pain from sitting too long.
As COVID-19 swept through our country, many of us have started working from home. Sitting at home may be nice for a day or two but after three weeks, some people are starting to suffer from neck and back pain. Unfortunately, many people do not have an ergonomically correct workstations at home. As a result, they develop poor posture while working at the computer. In just a few weeks, the spine can take a beating, leading to a host of problems. Most of these problems can be addressed by sitting/standing with proper posture and maintaining adequate strength and flexibility.
Correct posture begins with the position of head and spine. The side view of the spine should look like a reversed “C ” at the neck and low back. When standing, the ears, shoulders, hips, side of the knees and ankle bones should be aligned and if these body parts do not “line-up” there will be a pre-disposition to the onset of pain due to an abnormal increase in gravitational forces.
The “reverse C” shape of the neck and low back must be maintained to remain in proper posture. All too often the neck and low back “round out” in the opposite direction which shortens structures on the front of the body and lengthens the ones on the back of the body. If the posture is not corrected and these structures remain in a shortened or lengthened position for too long, they will being to hurt. Many of the “knots” that we feel in our muscles are directly related to the abnormal length that a particular muscle assumes when someone does not maintain proper posture.
Sitting and slouching at a computer can cause a great deal of neck and back pain. Try changing positions more frequently. Do a short exercise routine that focuses on stretching the shortened muscles in the front and strengthens the muscles in the back. Some suggestions are:
Door way stretch: Place our hands on a door jam and keep your elbows straight. Lean forward and tilt your chin towards the ceiling. When you feel a “pull” in the front of the shoulders and chest you have gone far enough. Count to 15 and relax. Repeat numerous times per day.
Low back arch: Stand up from your desk and place both hands in the small of your back. Lean backwards and think that your torso is “falling” over your hands. Don’t bend your knees or allow them to move in any direction.
Shoulder shrug: While standing, move both shoulders upward towards the ears, at the top of the motion begin to move your shoulders backwards and envision that you are going to squeeze the shoulder blades together so they touch. Return to the starting position and repeat several times per session and day.
Quadruped superman: You have to be on your hands and knees for this one. While on hands and knees, raise one outstretched arm and the opposite leg with a straight knee. Hold that pose for a few seconds and try to remain as steady as possible. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm/leg combo. Perform each side 15x and do it at least 2x / day.
These exercises are very basic, but they will help to reduce the strain on the muscles and joints of your body that are subjected to a great deal of abnormal force when you sit at your computer for an extended period of time.
If your pain is too great and you are unable to “self-treat” your symptoms, seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist. These licensed healthcare professionals are treating in their clinics, offering telehealth services and in some cases will make a visit to your house. They will be able to assess your symptoms and provide you with a treatment program that will address the symptoms and fix the problems which are usually an imbalance that develops in the musculoskeletal system secondary to poor posture.
The pandemic is going to come to an end sometime. You might be “stuck” working from home for another couple of weeks therefore you will have make a conscious effort to remain in good postural positioning when you are working. If you can maintain good posture and stretch and strengthen your muscles and joints, there is a good chance that you will have very little neck and back pain.