Since the onslaught of COVID-19, the world as we know it has changed dramatically. More people are working from home. This environmental change has considerable benefits: the ability to stay away from crowds, limiting the need for childcare, and reducing commuter costs. Unfortunately, there are downsides attributed to working from home. The lack of proper workspace has increased muscle strains, back pain, and poor posture. Chiropractic care is a great way to alleviate some of these woes. If you are not able to visit a clinic in person, there are several things you can try to improve your symptoms.
Our Work from Home Tips for Spinal Alignment
Avoid the Couch and Create a Designated Workspace
While staying in your pajama pants and messy bun may seem like a dream, posting up on the couch to conduct your daily work may wreak havoc on your body. Sitting on the sofa could reduce your motivation and drain your productivity. And the physical strain on your spine and neck will also create issues for you.
Finding a spot that is specifically for work is a great idea. If you do not have a desk or home office, the dining room table provides a great place for a makeshift office. Sitting upright in a chair will also reduce the strain on your spine and neck, not to mention the hips and lower back. Having a space dedicated to work will help you maintain focus and increases productivity. You want to be sure that you are comfortable while on your computer and that your keyboard and monitor are at an optimal height.
Create and Stick to a Routine
While those pajamas and an oversized t-shirt you slept in are hard to get out of in the morning, the most productive and focused people stick to a routine. Changing out of your pajamas and into something else will help set your mind into work mode. If you usually wake up early and have coffee or breakfast, continue that routine if you work from home.
Many people find their work hours are more flexible while working from home. However, you should try and maintain the same type of structure. Have a mid-morning break, stop working and get up for lunch, and end at the same time each day. You may not be working the same number of hours, but the day’s structure will help you stay focused and productive.
You may need more breaks, which may come from children being home or because the tasks can be more draining due to the lack of interaction with others. Distractions will be something to deal with while working from home. Make sure to give yourself plenty of grace to take breaks as needed to reduce the level of frustration or lack of focused work.
Working from home presents benefits in the flexibility but also frustrations with an inability to maintain a traditional schedule.
Tips for Keeping Your Spine in Alignment At Home
Working from home and lack of proper space and seating can cause back pain and discomfort. Posture is the number one cause of back pain. With so many working from the couch or recliner, these aliments will only increase. The seat itself is not the only cause of back pain but the level of the keyboard, how high your chair is, whether or not you sit straight up or slouch, and even how you stand. There are several recommendations on maintaining your spinal health while working from home.
Be Aware of Your Posture
Working from home usually means sitting at a computer and maintaining that pose for the length of the workday. This can lead to extensive issues with your back, neck, hips, and shoulders. Focus on your posture and adjust if you are slouching, leaning over, or hunching your shoulders. Remember your chair should be high enough that your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your shoulders should never be tense.
Perform Stretches That Improve Spinal Alignment
One sure-fire way to alleviate tense muscles is by stretching. Make it a priority to stretch during each “break.” These should not take much time and can be done from your chair or standing next to it.
1. Neck and shoulder rolls
These stretches help to ease tension in the neck and shoulders. For the neck roll, sit straight and look forward, dropping your shoulders as you take several slow breaths. Lower your chin to your chest and feel a long stretch from the base of your shoulders. Hold this for 20 seconds before proceeding to the next step. Slowly roll your head to either side, so your ear almost touches your shoulder. This will help to stretch the neck and shoulder muscles. Move-in slow circles for 20-30 seconds.
Rolling your shoulders forward for 20 seconds and then backward for another 20 can help loosen up your muscles and reduce tension. Repeat three times.
2. Chest stretches
Sitting straight with your eyes forward, take three deep breaths and slowly extend your arms upward. Hold this position for three seconds, and let the breaths extend into your fingers. Bring your arms down gently and place them behind your head, so your elbows point outward. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your elbows back as far as you can; hold this position for 20-30 seconds. This stretch will reduce the strain on your chest, neck, upper back, and shoulders.
3. Office chair hip stretch
This stretch reduces lower back and sciatic pain while working to increase flexibility in your legs and hips. Begin with your feet flat on the ground and sitting up straight. Take your right foot and rest it on your left knee. Lift the upper body, sit as tall as possible, and slowly lean forward. Hold for 20 seconds before switching sides and repeat three times.
4. Lower spinal stretch
This stretch will help your spinal muscles due to the sideways movement and allow you to feel a tension release in your lower back. Begin with your muscles sitting evenly in your chair and feet flat on the ground. Rest your right arm on your lap or armrest while raising your left hand into the air. Slowly lean into your right side to create a curve with your body and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat three times.
All of these can be done at home anytime you notice the tension and strain begin to cause pain. You do not need special equipment or materials, just a chair and some time. If your back, hips, shoulders, or spine continue to give you problems, it might be a good idea to seek chiropractic care. These specialists are trained in the care and treatment of the spine and work to relieve pain, stiffness, and immobility.
The spine is the central part of your nervous system; it controls and communicates with all organ systems, including your immune system, which is responsible for fighting illnesses. Maintaining a healthy spine is vital to your overall health. It would be best if you did all you could to keep yourself healthy and strong.
Can Chiropractic Care Help You?
For more information on how to keep a healthy spine while at your desk or working from home, please contact Hunt Spinal Care.