First off, It’s been awhile since my last blog post. Almost 5 months to be exact. I apologize and am committed to getting back on track with my monthly blogs. I really have no excuse other than some mild disruption in my everyday life that occurred beginning in March. Like most of you, the COVID-19 pandemic created a significant shift in my work and home life for upwards of 3 months and is continuing today.
One of the main things I have noticed in my personal stay-at home experience is that I have been spending abnormally long durations of time on my computer and phone. This certainly was the case early on as I attempted to move my practice to telehealth and digital service offerings. This required a commitment to computer time that I knew would have a negative effect on my body, specifically on my spine and shoulders. Like most of you who were required to shift your work to the digital world, I began experiencing increased aches and pains through my low back and neck/shoulders and even at times began experiencing headaches, something I don’t have a history of. This was obviously concerning to me, and as a physical therapist concerning for my patients and the general public.
Now as things have started to open up, and I am able to start seeing people again in the clinic, I am seeing a rapidly rising trend of low back pain and neck pain patients. Talking with many of these patients, the theme remains the same… “I began experiencing more back and neck pain as I have been working longer hours at home, in poor postural positions, with my laptop and phone, etc..”
I have no idea why??? Does this look familiar??
Now some people were fortunate enough to afford (or already had) a ergonomic friendly at home work set up that helped mitigate the work-from-home neck and back pain phenomenon, but most of us were abruptly forced to create a makeshift home work station with our laptop and whatever desk and chair we had access to at home. In addition to the poor workstation set up, we were then forced to sit on multi-hour long Zoom calls many days of the week in addition to our normal computer tasks. Let’s not forget to mention the additional stress of being at home with our kids and spouses (God Love Them) trying to get work done.
All this has led to the perfect storm…. A rapidly rising population of people with and not limited to chronic low back pain, sciatica, neck pain, and tension headaches all stemming from improper at home work stations and over-working in a seated position, at a computer for extended periods of time. Throw on the additional stress of working at home, and you have people in need of help but afraid to interact and get help for fear of exposure.
Well I’m here to write about some simple steps to help change your posture at home, address home work station faults, use movement as medicine, and decrease stress all in the hopes that you can avoid a trip to someone like me, or even worse someone like an orthopedic or neuro- surgeon due to worsening nerve impingement.
- Improve Your Back and Neck Pain with these simple adjustments
1. Sit with a lumbar support pillow behind your back at all times. This is key!!
2. Screen monitor at Eye Level at all times. 90 degree position of elbow and knees. Try as best you can to mimic this.
3. Purchase a mouse. Using your track pad only makes things worse for neck and shoulders.
4. Set an alarm on your phone to move from computer every 30 minutes. “Motion is Lotion”
5. Spend 10 minutes a day performing neck and back stretching in all 3 planes of motion to reverse the strain that has been on your spine all day.
It really can be as simple as following these steps to set your back up for success. Working from home and long extended hours on the computer is not going away any time soon. So give your spine some love and try these tips out and see what works for you.
If you are looking for additional stretching routines or quick mobility sessions check out our You Tube Channel (RecoverRx Performance Physical Therapy)
If you are experiencing low back or neck pain and are unable to do the things you want to do, want to avoid injections or surgery, and are unsure what direction to go in, consult your primary care physician before trying any of these or reach out to us and we can direct you in the right direction.
All the best and take care of that BACK!