With more and more employers opting to have employees work from home (whether by choice or by necessity), everyone is making adaptations. We haven’t yet adjusted to “the new normal,” and some of us are suffering the consequences.
When you work in suboptimal working conditions, you’re putting yourself at risk for back and neck pain. While the workplace doesn’t often have the best environment for healthy work, you’re even worse off when you’re on your own.
Don’t let comfort fool you.
But what’s causing the change, and how can you fix it? If you’re dealing with back and neck pain, or you’re trying to avoid it ahead of time, we want to help. Keep reading to learn all about the back and neck issues that working from home can bring you and how to take some of the strain off.
What’s Causing the Back and Neck Pain?
There are many causes of back pain, but the pains that come with the lockdown are likely due to poor posture while working or taking time to yourself.
Consider your posture at work. When you’re in the office, you sit at a desk in a chair with a firm back. While it may not be comfortable, you’re forced into a decent position for your neck and back.
Your computer may be lifted to be at eye level, so you don’t have to hunch over. You get up to take breaks, and on your trips from your home to the car, your car to the workplace, and back again.
When you’re at home, you get too relaxed. You think that comfort in the moment is more important than posture. You stay seated in the same spot through lunch and maybe even when you’re done with your workday.
Can you see why this would be problematic?
While there are many benefits of working from home, it’s important that you take care of your spinal health while you do it.
How Can I Avoid or Alleviate the Pain at Home?
So now that we’ve identified the problem, what can we do to fix it? You’re stuck at home, and you have to work, so how can you manage or avoid the excess pain?
We have a few ideas that have worked for us in the past. They’re easy, accessible, and you can do them even when you don’t have time to see your physical therapist.
Take Time to Stretch
If you have serious lower back pain or neck pain, we suggest sticking to easy stretches or specific stretches that your physical therapist has already recommended to you to make sure that you stay safe.
Otherwise, getting a good stretch in every now and then is a great way to “reset” and to figure out where you’re feeling tense. That helps you readjust yourself in the middle of the day instead of waiting until you’re already feeling discomfort at the end of the workday.
There are plenty of stretches that you can do while you’re working, so you don’t disrupt your flow. It’s also a good idea to take a quick five-minute yoga break during your lunch or other break periods. You can alleviate lower back pain, shoulder pain, and all of the other aches that have accumulated throughout the day.
Relieve some of that tension by stretching out.
Make Sure You Stay Active
A healthy amount of physical activity is crucial when it comes to avoiding and alleviating back pain.
A lot of our aches and pains come from having sedentary lifestyles. Under lockdown, people are more sedentary than ever. You don’t have the same activity options as you used to.
Take a few minutes out of every day to pay attention to your fitness.
You don’t have to engage in serious cardio or strength training (though these will benefit your overall health in the long run, and we encourage you to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day if you’re able).
Take a walk around your neighborhood, do some pilates at home, or have an indoor dance party. Even if you stand up for a few minutes per hour and take a lap around your home or do a few squats, you’ll be making a huge difference.
Avoid Lounging In Bed
When your back hurts, it’s tempting to take the day off and lay in bed. Is this helping or hurting?
While you may be in pain, it’s a good idea to try to move around (using gentle movements) instead of laying in place. Laying in place leads to stiffness and muscle degeneration, both of which will hurt you overall.
This is another time where gentle stretches or a slow walk will help you.
Have Good Seated and Standing Posture
As we mentioned, poor posture is one of the primary causes of back and neck pain. If you want to prevent that, improve your posture.
You can get special cushions for your back, neck, and bottom. They fit onto your desk chair, so you’re put into a better position for your spine.
Consider trying a standing desk. They’re great for posture, but they also help you get rid of the problem of being too sedentary.
Should I Try Physical Therapy?
If you’re experiencing back and neck pain during the lockdown, it’s a great idea to reach out to a physical therapist. A professional will know how best to help you and ensure that you don’t do any further damage.
One of the best parts about physical therapy is that your therapist won’t only help in that moment. Their advice and suggestions help you at home as well. They may give you suggestions of stretches and exercises that fit your specific condition, as well as posture suggestions.
Are You Experiencing Back or Neck Pain?
Working from home results in a sedentary lifestyle, and this makes back and neck pain worse. If this all sounds familiar to you, it’s time to start making some changes.
We want to help. Our licensed pain relief experts know how to manage back and neck pain so you can live pain-free and get back to your workflow. While the lockdown isn’t in your control, “the new normal” doesn’t have to include the acceptance and normalization of pain.