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Tips For Avoiding Pain With Your Home Office

With the stay at home order starting almost a month ago, your makeshift home office might really be starting to affect you. I am going to give you some simple tips to set your office up correctly to avoid neck and back pain. Take frequent breaks get up and move around. That goes for when you are back at your office as well. Getting stuck in the same position for 4 hours is going to wreak some havoc.

1. If you are sitting on your couch (like I am now) trying to reply back to emails and corral your kids and finish your coffee. I get it. The most important thing when sitting on a soft surface like a bed or couch is making sure you have good lumbar support, and you are eye level with your computer screen.

  • Take an extra pillow or roll up a blanket and stick it right behind your low back. This will help support your spine and avoid slouching.

  • Setting your computer on the arm of your couch will give you an added lift so your laptop is closer to eye level.

  • Prop your knees on your coffee table or ottoman and rest your computer on your thighs so that the screen is pushed back and eye level.

2. If you are sitting at your dining room table or desk.

  • Again making sure your computer screen is eye level is key for avoiding neck and upper back pain. Use books to stack your laptop up.

  • Add a rolled up towel or blanket to stick behind your low back to add support.

  • Make sure you are facing your computer straight on, even a slight twist can aggravate your back if you are sitting there all day.

  • If you need to be on your phone a lot throughout the day try to use speakerphone or headphones to avoid using your shoulder to hold your phone while you multitask this can cause a pesky crick in your neck.

  • Make sure the chair you are sitting on has a back to it, if you are using a stool try upgrading your seating choice.

Ok so this would have been great to read before you were in pain, but I'm assuming if your googling

"tips to avoid pain when working at home" you might be already experiencing pain. Don't worry I have some stretches that can help. As with any stretches do what feels good if it hurts don't do it. You should feel a good stretch, mild discomfort but no pain.

1. Cat/Cow

  • This is a great stretch for midback pain and tightness.

  • Perform 3 sets of 20 reps, 2 times per day.

  • Begin on all 4’s with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your back upward into a “mad cat” position.

  • Next, flex your back downward to sag into a "cow” position, really let your belly hang. Slowly transition back and forth between these two positions.

  • Repeat in a slow coordinated movement as directed.

2. Doorway Stretch

  • This will help open up your chest, stretch your pecs and unslouch your back

  • Repeat 3 times or as needed.

  • Stand in an open doorway. Raise each arm up to the side, forearms flat against doorway, with palms forward. Slowly step forward with one foot. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest. Stand upright and don’t lean forward.

  • Hold for 30 seconds. Step back and relax.

3. Cervical (neck) Retractions

  • This will help with neck and upper back pain. If you aren't feeling the stretch with this one watch yourself in the mirror to ensure you are going straight back. you should feel it on the back of your neck and upper back.

  • Perform 1 set of 10 reps, 3 times per day.

  • Sit or stand looking forward with good posture. Tuck your chin to create a double chin. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds.

  • Return to the starting position. Focus your vision on a spot on the wall to avoid neck flexion or extension.Keep your mouth closed. Perform 1 set of 10 repetitions 3-10 times per day.

  • Alternately, this exercise may be performed standing with your back against a wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should be in contact with the wall. Tuck your chin to make a "double chin" until the base of your skull contacts the wall, relax and repeat as directed.

4. Foam Rolling- Spine

  • If you have a foam roller this can be a great tool.

  • While seated on the floor with a foam roller positioned directly behind you, lie back onto the foam roller.

  • Put your hands up by your face. Elevate your pelvis and begin gently rolling back and forth over the roller. If less pressure is desired, this exercise may be performed upright, against a wall. Perform as directed.

  • Additionally, laying on the foam roller with your tailbone, spine, and head resting on the roller is a great relaxation exercise. Allow your arms fall to the side with elbows touching the ground as you relax on the roller for 1 minute.

5. Cervical (neck) "Plus Sign"

  • Perform 3 sets of 10 reps, 2 times per day.

  • Sit or stand, looking forward, with proper posture. Gently and deliberately 'nod' head up and down in a pain free range of motion

  • Next, from a neutral position, tilt your head toward your shoulder from side to side.

  • *Do not "roll" your head in a circle.

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