So many of us are working from home these days. I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones – my work involves me going somewhere, moving around and interacting with people face-to-face. However, not everyone is aware that these changes in work arrangements are causing their neck or back pain.
By the way, I think I should get points for not starting this blog with “As you’re all aware, these are trying times”. I really don’t need to hear anyone say that again. Ever.
As a Chiropractor, the three main reasons people present to me for an appointment are: lower back pain, neck pain, and headaches. People come in with all sorts or aches and pains, but these are the most common.
Last year, I feel like I only saw people for these three things.
Working from home.
There are two main reasons WFH causes neck and back pain.
- Your body position
- Lack of movement
So much time in our lives is spent sitting. It might surprise you that sitting can actually be the cause of a lot of our spine pain. The position our spine and hips are in can lead to muscle tightness and joint stiffness.
By now, most of us are aware of what constitutes a good ergonomic set up. Workplaces have come a LONG way in the last few years. Standing desks are now widely accepted at work, sometimes even promoted.
Standing desks are generally the best option for minimising sitting-related spine pain. Your body is in its most neutral position, therefore not stretching or compressing structures in and around the spine. Standing desks are much more affordable and accessible these days, conversion kits mean you don’t even have to replace your existing sitting desk.
If you don’t have access to a standing desk, there are ways you can minimise the negative effects of sitting at your desk:
- Elevate your screen to eye level so you’re not looking down. Don’t lean in towards the screen either!
- Aim for 90 degree bends in your ankles, knees, hips, elbows. Adjust your chair accordingly.
- Your shoulders and wrists should rest naturally in their ‘neutral’ position. Arms by your side and wrists straight
- Back support in your chair should feel comfortable. While you want to avoid slouching, you don’t want to over-straighten your spine and fatigue the supporting muscles.
Hopefully, this general guide can assist you with your home ergonomic set up. If you need further information please chat to a Chiropractor, or an OH&S representative at work.
The second (and just as important) factor that influences WFH pain is not moving often enough.
Generally, our bodies like movement. Think about it, we feel better after exercise, and feel stiffer after not moving.
A lot of our troubles can be avoided or minimised if we regularly get up or move from our work desks. If tightness and stiffness is setting into your back or neck, often getting up and moving our bodies can break the cycle and loosen things up again. ‘
As a general rule, I recommend people avoid sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time. So take regular breaks.
Don’t worry, these breaks are short. Get a glass of water, go to the toilet, make the bed. Something that will only take a minute. Believe it or not, this small amount of movement can make a big difference to the tension that accumulates in the body.
If you have a standing desk you can move while you’re standing and get away with taking breaks less often. Move your hips from side-to-side, stand on one leg for a bit. These small movements go a long way.
For the teacher’s pets: You might even have a few favourite stretches that you can perform. Gold stars for you.
On a side note, all of this also applies to Netflix time on the couch. It’s the same thing. Sorry.
So in summary:
YES your neck and back pain can be coming from working from home.
SO sit up straight (or stand), and move around more often!
While these techniques and modifications aim to minimise and hopefully stop the onset of sitting-related pain, you might still need help from your Chiropractor. Feel free to book online, or contact Enhance Chiropractic on 9686 2225 or email@example.com