The year 2020 taught many people about the advantages of working from home. No more laboring over what to wear every morning. No more engaging in battle on the highway. No more worrying that some traitorous coworker is going to steal your lunch from the breakroom fridge.
But that tumultuous year also provided an unwelcome lesson about working from home. As many workers traded in their posh offices and desks for kitchen counters and couches, they discovered their new working arrangements wreaked havoc on their backs and necks.
The primary culprits? Prolonged periods of inactivity, awkward postures, and increased levels of stress.
If you’re still working from home and suffering from a nagging crick, then don’t worry. There are good ways of dealing with back and neck pain while working from home!
Move Around Often
Inactivity is a common source of neck and back pain. Your body is designed to scour the landscape all day long in search of food. It’s not designed to sit in a chair, slumped over a laptop. But you work precisely so you don’t have to live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (which is even more difficult to do in a country with property laws). Therefore, you must minimize your inactivity while still remaining productive.
Just 30 minutes of light exercise daily are often enough to strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine and drive off that aforementioned crick. Would you rather not brave the Fargo–Moorhead area’s fearsome winter weather? If so, then a mere 15 minutes of light stretching can provide all you need to avoid back and neck pain.
See this helpful guide to core strengthening exercises by the Denver Post. The clamshell, bird dog, and gluteus bridge exercises are especially effective at remedying back pain!
Aside from actual exercise, any activity which forces the 365 joints in your spine to move around – at all – will also help to prevent needless pain. Very few people who work from home need a better excuse to set aside their current project and do something else for a bit. Just try and take care that your hourly five-minute movement break doesn’t always bring you to the kitchen!
Adopt Good Posture
One key to avoiding back and neck pain while working from home is assuming the healthiest posture while sitting before a computer. First of all, you’re going to need an ergonomic workspace. Although the couch may seem like an appealing place to set up camp, a real desk and computer chair offer the best support while you’re working eight to nine hours a day.
To adopt a good posture while working at a desk, try to do all of the following:
Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back. No hunching!
Keep your posterior planted at the back of your chair, not its front.
Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Keep your neck parallel to the back of your chair. For every inch you tilt your head forward, the amount of pressure it exerts against your spine doubles!
Keep your back straight. Leaning to one side or the other also places needless pressure against the spine.
Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, with the soles of your feet planted on the floor. Crossing your legs for extended periods of time may cause your pelvis to rotate out of alignment with your spine, and may also impede blood flow throughout your legs.
Position your monitor so that the first line of text is at eye level.
Position your monitor 20 to 30 inches away from your face.
Position the back of your office chair so it reclines 100 to 110 degrees – i.e. angled slightly backward.
Utilize a headset while you’re using your cell phone. Cradling it between your shoulder and ear will contort your neck into a highly unnatural position.
If learning all of those good computer posture techniques at once feels like a tall order, then you may find greater success breaking it all down. Just focus on one technique until it becomes a habit. Then, move on to the next. Using this technique will still spare your back and neck from needless strain!
Reduce Your Stress
You may have left the corporate office behind, but that only means many of its stressors have followed you at home. Higher levels of stress correspond to increased levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that provides temporary advantages during a fight-or-flight scenario. But, it can become bad for your overall health when your body produces it for too long. Musculoskeletal issues including neck and back pain are common symptoms of prolonged cortisol exposure!
There are several natural ways to reduce your cortisol levels including getting enough sleep, receiving adequate exercise, and practicing healthful breathing techniques.
While avoiding stress altogether is nearly impossible during the endless pursuit of happiness, you can always counteract the emotional strain by balancing it with relaxing pastimes. Walk your dog (which doubles as exercise). Spend time with your friends and family. Set aside a few minutes every day to focus on something you love. You’ll be amazed by how effectively leisure activities can decrease neck and back pain!
Schedule a Visit at Fargo Spine
A chiropractor is trained to detect when the spine is misaligned and adjust it back to its healthiest position. If you’re suffering from acute or chronic back or neck pain, Fargo Spine’s holistic approach to wellness can help quickly reduce your discomfort – and even eliminate pain altogether. Whether you’re a home office warrior or actually have to leave your house to earn your living, we welcome you to contact Fargo Spine today!