Are you working from home? Having Neck Pain? Having Shoulder Pain? Read on for some quick tips…
If you are like many Americans, you were told to pack up your things and move into a new office located conveniently in your home and your entire routine was flipped upside down. Your commute became shorter as you rolled out of bed five minutes before you logged in. There was no one to tell you couldn’t turn your bed or couch into an office or say that was your fifth snack for the day.
It was all fun and games until you woke up with a stiff neck and your shoulder ached. You blamed it on the way you were sleeping but that was a month ago and you still have persistent chronic pain. Why can’t you get rid of this pain? It may be the way you are sleeping or it could be how your home office is set up. You are not alone as more and more people are experiencing pain as the working from home deadline keeps extending. Below you will find tips to help you decrease your neck and shoulder pain.
What does ergonomics mean? Ergonomics means to fit a job, tasks, etc. to a person. You use ergonomics by looking at the assigned tasks a worker has, to create an environment to perform these tasks safely through correct postures, work techniques, and much more. Ergonomics in the office compared to your ‘office’ at home may look very different. You might have had a nice comfy chair in your office but now you are stuck with your kids play chair, yikes! You can use the tools of ergonomics to fix your home ‘office’ as sitting uncomfortably for 8 hours or more a day takes a toll on your body thus, causing your chronic neck and shoulder pain.
Start with your seat height, if you can adjust your seat, you will want to position your hips either level or slightly higher than your knees. Your backrest should keep you upright and provide comfortable support to your lower back. Feel pain in your shoulders? Relax your shoulders by keeping them away from your ears, so check your desk height to determine if it is causing your shoulders to hike up when you type. Remember that your couch, bed, or floor may not be the best home ‘office’ solution as it will not place your body in proper alignment.
Increase your physical activity
Do you move from your desk only to grab food or to use the bathroom? If so, you are causing more harm to your body then just your neck and back pain. Sitting for long extended periods of time can be extremely harmful to your health. In a research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that their participants spent 77 percent of their time either sitting or being inactive. This lead to determine that these individuals had a higher risk of mortality due to being inactive for the majority of their waking hours.
How does this relate to your neck and shoulder pain? Well, if you are inactive the majority of the day your body tends to shut off or become ‘stiff’. If you constantly are sitting, your neck and back are not being engaged in any physical work causing your muscles to become dormant. It is strongly encouraged to get up and move every 30 minutes, as it only takes two to five minutes of activity to reap the benefits of decreasing your mortality rate. Take this time to walk around, grab a snack or drink of water, or even to just take a deep breath, which leads to our last topic.
Decrease your stress levels
You are not alone when it comes to the increases of stress in your life due to transitioning to work from home as well as the unknowns in this global pandemic. This increase in stress may also be causing your pain in your neck and shoulders. Any stress placed on your body will elicit it to respond through physical symptoms such as muscles tensing up. Experiencing chronic stress will place your body in a constant state of tension in which you may develop pain in your neck and shoulders.
But stress and anxiety are not the same. Anxiety results in having too much stress that becomes overwhelming and fear-inducing but, stress don’t always result in anxiety. Whether you are experiencing stress or anxiety, your muscles will be in a constant state of stiffness resulting in you feeling pain in your neck and shoulders. Start by writing down what stressors or triggers there are in your life. Then, create a plan of action to reduce these.
Maybe you are overwhelmed by the constant negativity within the media, so you start to limit your screen time or take a detox from social media. Or it is you are feeling constant stress from your work and you decide to schedule breaks throughout the day to step away from your laptop to get some fresh air. Whatever your stressors are in your life, begin to make an action plan to limit your exposure to them as this will release your body’s tension-relieving some of the neck and shoulder pain you have been experiencing.
Whether you are experiencing increased stress levels or your bed is now your office, there are ways to help with that stubborn neck or shoulder pain. You might have to begin to redesign your office to become ergonomically friendly or you may need to begin to incorporate short exercise breaks throughout your day. The neck and shoulder pain you are experiencing can be easily reduced by changing some of your daily habits. No need to search out medications, massage machines, or even that heating pad. Look to change your neck and shoulder pain from within!