In light of recent events with COVID-19 and social distancing practices, many of us have found ourselves now working from home. Though it can seem like a dream at first, working from home can still create some woes and cause you to suffer from back pain, poor posture, and muscular strain. Chiropractic care is here to help, and even if you may not be able to visit us at our office at the moment, we can still offer you relief with some great work from home tips to keep your experience pain-free! You can even continue most of our recommendations once you return to your normal place of work.
For some, the transition to work from home can be difficult, but we are here to offer our best advice. Though you have newfound flexibility and freedom when it comes to your appearance and location when working, there are some downsides to working from home such as resisting the temptation to work in pajamas or from the couch instead of a desk or table.
Avoid the couch and make a designated workspace
Not only does sitting on your couch drain your motivation and productivity levels, working for hours on your couch can cause damage and strain to your spine. If you work from the couch, you may find your neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips in pain by the end of the week.
Instead, make yourself a dedicated workspace whether on a table or desk if you have one. Your workspace should be in an area away from the kitchen and living room to avoid distractions. You want to be comfortable, but not to the point you can forget what you are supposed to be doing during the day. Areas with natural light can help improve your motivation and mood.
Make sure your keyboard, computer, laptop, and/or monitor is set to the right heights. A misplaced keyboard can lead to hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, and upper back problems. Adjust everything so it is in comfortable reach and you can work in a neutral and relaxed posture. Everything should be kept at eye level to reduce strain on your neck and spine.
Stick to routine
A good rule of thumb is to keep the same schedule and routine. Wake up early and get dressed appropriately to get you in the work mindset. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a full blouse and skirt piece, but it is a good idea not to wear lounge clothes or your pajamas as they can make you feel tired or less energized when working.
If your schedule is more flexible when working from home, it is a good idea to still try and keep your same work hours to enhance productivity and give your day some structure. That being said, working from home can be difficult and draining at times, so add in shorter, more frequent breaks so you don’t become stir crazy. It’s a good idea to keep your breaks under 15 minutes so you don’t entirely lose focus. We understand that if you are new to the idea of working from home there can be plenty of distractions such as children, roommates, housework, pets, or the television, so try to power through tasks 30-60 minutes at a time before taking a break.
It can be easy for desk, computer, and at-home jobs to cause spinal stress and discomfort due to the environment. Bad posture only begets worse posture which can contribute to other health issues that may take a toll on your work life such as performance and productivity. If you have a desk job, you probably already know how hard it is to be comfortable and maintain good posture, and working from home is not much different. Many factors can contribute to poor alignment such as keyboard and monitor placement, chair height, how you sit, and how you stand. Here are our recommendations on how to maintain wellness in your workspace.
Be aware of your posture
Desk jobs can make you less active throughout the day, but also increase your likelihood of developing back, hip, neck, and shoulder problems from an unsupportive posture or position. Be mindful of how you sit, stand, and walk. Pay attention to your neck, shoulders, and spine during the day and correct yourself if you find your body slouching or hunching over.
If you’re uncomfortable, adjust yourself. Your chair should be tall enough for you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. Sit close enough so that you can type with your shoulders relaxed.
Performing these stretches every hour during your workday can help ensure your spine’s alignment and health. These exercises only require a 3-5 minute break and can be done right at your chair.
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 deep breaths. Lower your chin to your chest and feel a nice stretch from the base of your shoulders. You can hold it 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 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 relieve tension. Repeat 3 times.
2. Chest stretches
Sitting straight with your eyes forward, take a few deep breaths and slowly extend your arms upward. Hold this position for several breaths extending your fingers as well. 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 targets the 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 and sit as tall as possible slightly leaning forward. Hold for 20 seconds before switching sides and repeat 3 times.
4. Lower spinal stretch
This stretch will benefit your long spinal muscles due to the sideways movement and allow you to feel a soothing 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 up into the air. Gently lean into your right side to create a curve with your body, hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat 3 times.
Another good reason to practice our recommendations is that though chiropractic care is a great way to relieve pain and stiffness, it is also a great way to boost your immune system and restore optimal function to your body. The spine is the center of your nervous system, which is responsible for communicating and supporting the other organ systems of your body. One of these systems is your immune system, which is responsible for fighting off germs, bacteria, viruses, and illnesses. It is important to keep a healthy and strong immune system by making sure your spine is aligned and healthy.
For more information on how to keep a healthy spine while at your desk or working from home, please contact Core Rehab.