With many of us now having to work from home, I have already been asked to help many people suffering from neck, shoulder, mid-back and low back pain brought on by poor posture and lack of exercise. Here I hope to offer you some advice on what you can do to help prevent these types of pain.
Many people have now had to move away from decent set-ups with computer monitors, stand up desks and alike. Instead we are hunched over laptops at kitchen tables. Posture goes out the window and often people aren’t exercising as much, or moving away from their “desks” as often.
What postural things to watch out for?
This is a typical posture for someone working on a laptop at a kitchen table. We tend to rest our arms on the table and the more we concentrate on the task in hand, the more we point our chins at the computer screen. This draws us forwards, placing a lot of strain on the whole spine. Our necks bend back on themselves, we get a lot of tension between our shoulder blades, and we flex our low back, increasing pressure on the discs in our low back. Headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and low back pain are all likely, but avoidable……
To correct this there are a couple of simple steps.
1 – Move you chair closer to the table so that your tummy is up against the front of the desk.
2 – Put your finger on your chin and gently push it horizontally backwards, allowing our head to pivot on the top of your neck and for your spine to straighten. Keep going until your back is fully supported by your chair.
3 – Once you’ve done this, push your chin down a couple of centimeters. Imagine you’ve got a piece of string attached to the back of your head and it is pulling up towards the ceiling. Once you’ve done this you should look more like this.
You’ll find your laptop is now 10cm or more closer to you, and that you are now much more supported, with less strain in your spine. Somethings, like chair and desk / table height you might not be able to control, but sitting like this makes a massive difference.
What else can you do?
Don’t stay put for too long. I have a 20:20:20:20 rules (which should really be 20:20:20:40) which can help a lot – but with the current lockdown you might have to interpret this liberally.
This helps your eye-sight and your body. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 meters away for 20 seconds (for the eyes). Then get up and walk to that thing and back (20:20:20:40) – interpret this as best you can. It’s amazing how far you’ll end up walking if you do this, all counting towards your daily step count. 120m/hr. If you end up working a 10 hour day, you are going to walk over a kilometer just doing this.
I’m going to give you one exercise here that you can do at home. More to follow over the coming days.
When doing this exercise the idea is that your low back and pelvis don’t move, and your head and neck stay still relative to your mid-back – so the bits that moves are your shoulder and mid-back. To that end, sit in a chair that supports your low back but leaves your mid-back free. If the back of your chair is too high then you can put a pillow or towel in the small of your low back.
- keep your nose pointing at your wrists so that your head and neck stay in line with your mid-back.
- keep your head above your pelvis so the movement is a pure twist, not a side-bending movement.
- breath out as you twist, and breath in as you return to the middle.
- 10 each way, twice daily.
So, I think that about covers it for today. I’ll be in touch over the next day or so with more help and advice. If you’d like to contact me please call 07973 286667 or [button link=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” subject=Philip Waldman” color=”green” target=”_blank”]Email Philip[/button].