By now, just about everyone has had enough of this. Stuck at home. Maybe no job. Possibly long hours on the phone trying to get through to unemployment – with no success. Lucky folks can work from home (like me), but the long hours in front of a computer takes a toll on our bodies. Necks ache. Shoulders and backs throb. We’re all tense and stressed not knowing what the future holds. That just makes the pain even worse. Try meditation.
SUFFERING IS NOT AN OPTION – AT LEAST NOT A GOOD ONE!
Sitting at a desk, dining table, bed or sofa (it’s amazing how many people work from their sofas!) is one of the most passive things to be doing and can lead to neck pain – one of the most common complaints made by office workers. Research shows that sitting all day is the new smoking – it can cut years off your life and detrimentally affect your well-being. In fact, the World Health Organization has listed inactivity as the #4 biggest risk factor in global adult mortality.
What’s the solution? Get up off the sofa or bed every hour or so and move around for at least a couple of minutes.
SOLUTIONS TO AVOID PAIN WHILE WORKING AT HOME
The problem with sofas: Experts say that whatever you do, don’t work from your sofa. Granted, not everybody has the luxury of having a home office with a desk and ergonomic chair. Even though the sofa seems like the most comfortable place to work, it encourages slumping and puts a huge amount of strain on the neck and shoulders since craning to work becomes the norm.
Dynamic Exercises: If working from the sofa is a must, remember to take breaks and walk around the house at least every hour. While walking, try some dynamic stretching exercises. First, lift the shoulders and roll them back to squeeze the shoulder blades together. Then, allow the shoulders to roll forward. Repeat this exercise a few times or try doing it in reverse. Then, take a seat and try some dynamic neck stretching exercises to loosen the muscles. Move the head up and down, look to the right and left and tilt your head to the right and left. Hold each position for 30 seconds to allow the muscles to stretch to their relaxed length instead of being tight and tense.
Change positions: While working from the sofa, try changing positions. Sit on the floor and place the laptop on the sofa or a nearby coffee table. To alleviate neck and back pain caused by sitting, try to extend the spine in the “superman position.” This involves positioning all fours on the floor as if squatting on a table top. Then stretch the right arm in front as far as possible while raising and stretching the left leg. While extended, try to stay as straight as possible and keep the hips square to the floor. Alternate with the opposite hand and leg. Hold the position for 10 seconds. With practice, the ideal time to hold the position is 30 seconds.
Stand up!: During the day, stand up and work if it’s at all possible. Standing uses more muscles than sitting and burns more calories. It’s great for the neck, back and posture. If standing to work is not an option, get up at least every hour to stretch the chest and extend the spine to reverse the hunched position of sitting.
Use a towel or broomstick to aid in stretching. Hold the towel or broomstick with arms straight on both sides then rotate back and forth slowly over the head. This will stretch the neck and chest muscles and improve posture. The pain will slowly melt away in the neck, back and chest.
Make your own standing desk: Why not? Try standing up and working at the kitchen counter or ironing board. Position it next to a wall for more stability. We know that standing desks can decrease chronic neck and back pain. It’s worth a shot!
Turn daily tasks into exercises: Is Zoom a new best friend? Videoconferencing all day long? Try it standing up. Research shows that these types of meetings are a great way to increase efficiency…making sure that the meeting doesn’t stretch into an hour when it can be done in half that time.
Set an alarm: Try to break up multiple chunks of sitting time (maybe set an alarm) with some movement by taking kitchen or bathroom breaks. The general rule is to walk at least every hour to get a glass of water. People get dehydrated when they sit…plus this time of year everyone needs extra water. How much water to drink? Take your weight in pounds – divide by 2 – that’s the number of ounces to drink daily. It’s probably a lot more than what is getting drunk now.
Down time: Waiting for a pot of water to boil? 15 minutes till the next call? Try some light exercises like calf raises, squats or lunges.
Exercise: Try to be motivated enough to get out of the house during longer lunch breaks – go for a walk or light run. If this isn’t possible then try some simple but effective deskercise routines. Don’t forget to keep a glass of water handy.
Stick to regular work hours: we all know how bad excessive screen time can be to one’s health. So, unless there is a pressing deadline, try to stick to structured work hours as much as possible. It’s critically important to be able to relax after the workday ends and not keep thinking about work or some other stressful issue. Just shut the laptop and ignore the emails from the moment the workday ends. Try to organize fun and relaxing activities to do after work…like dancing, a hot bath or reading a good book to get into “relax mode”.
Just remember: The government wants us all to believe that “we’re in this together”. That’s just not true. Each of us is unique as far as our health, age, immune systems and financial situation. Taking care to be as healthy as possible is more important than ever in these uncertain times.
P.S. If the Covid-19 virus is disrupting your health or the health of a loved one, please know that safe, natural and effective remedies are available. I would like to help! Just go to www.stopneckpainnaturally.com and click on “Get 1 – on – 1 Help” for a FREE consultation.