It’s been 18 months and many of you are still working from home. Whether you love it or hate, your body has likely had to make some adjustments to accommodate your at-home setup. Professionally fitted stand up desks and ergonomic chairs are worth their weight in how they can take the load off of your back and neck. Sitting for prolonged periods of time is shown to cause added stress to neck, shoulder and low back muscles that compounds the longer the body remains seated. Over time, the increased pressure on the spine can lead to disc issues as well as chronic pain and tightness in the back and neck muscles. Since the pandemic started, there has been an estimated 30% increase in doctor visits related to neck and back pain. In just my acupuncture practice alone, I’ve seen a doubling of patients coming in with these work-from-home related complaints.
What Can I do?
While acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy are popular options for relieving these issues, it’s also important to establish regular at-home habits to improve neck and back pain. Here are some easy suggestions you can implement today to help you feel less discomfort:
- Set a timer on your phone for every 60 minutes to allow yourself to take 5-10 minutes to stand and stretch your back and neck. Start by looking at the ceiling for 10 seconds, feel how heavy your head is? Your spine has to carry that load all day and when looking down at a 45-degree angle, your neck has to withstand 50-60 pounds of force!
- Grab a lacrosse ball (or something similar) and place it between your shoulder blades as you lean against a wall. Move the ball around until you find the most tender zones. Maintain pressure on those areas for 30 seconds and breathe into the discomfort, then release and repeat.
- Stay hydrated. If you’re working from home, then it’s extra easy to keep water filled and accessible. Set a goal for how many ounces or bottles (refillable of course) you will drink a day. Your muscles need the hydration to stay loose, plus the extra bathroom trips will give you more time to get up and walk around.
Will Acupuncture Help Me?
If you are need of something other than at-home tips, acupuncture is one of the most effective treatments for improving neck and back pain. It works quickly to release tight areas and increase blood flow to tired, achy muscles. Typically, within the first 2-3 sessions there is a substantial reduction in symptoms and after 5-10 treatments, most people have graduated our care and are feeling stronger and looser with significantly less pain and discomfort.
In our “new normal,” working from home may never completely go away. The bottom line is that the human body was not meant to be seated for prolonged hours of the day. Adding these tips to your daily routine can help mitigate the toll being taken on your spine and muscular system. Remember, self-care is the real health-care.