Read on to Keep the Pain at Bay
Chances are that you may be reading this hunched in front of your laptop, without even realizing it. Here’s our reminder to straighten that posture, right now!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the majority of us had to make an abrupt shift from the corporate settings of our offices to working from less ideal setups like drawing rooms or bedrooms. While a few are lucky enough to have ergonomic workstations at home, most of us try to make use of coffee tables, beds, sofas and dining tables.
Although the initial news of this transition sounded God-sent for many of us at first, it is now proving to be a literal pain in the neck as well as the back too as we stay slouched over our laptops for a long period of time. The situation may have been tolerable had this situation was just for a few weeks. But, with uncertainty looming large on when this situation might go back to normal, long hours of work in this less-than-ideal work-from-home set up may prove to be a havoc for many, especially on individuals with pre-existing back and neck problems.
So, how to deal with back and pain while working from home?
Here’s what Dr Rajesh Reddy Chenna , Senior Neurologist from Apollo Hospitals, says, “When you sit on a couch, bed, or even your sofa, you don’t maintain the right posture. The crux of the problem lies there.”
He adds, “Most of us slouch or end up rounding our shoulders and putting our head forward. Consequently, we put too much pressure on the tissues of our body. This may lead to chronic pain in the neck and back. It begins with mild body ache and can soon manifest into a severe problem for the whole body.”
What you need to do
For starters, you need to understand that there’s no universally ‘right’ posture that you have to maintain all day long. Yes, even the right posture for a prolonged time may lead to stiffness, including neck and back pain. You have to keep changing the posture.
If you are sitting with your laptop for long hours, you must make the following adjustments advised by Dr Rajesh Reddy Chenna in your daily routine right now.
Change your posture throughout the day
Avoid sitting in just one posture for a long time. Yes, you have to keep switching your posture to avoid pain in your neck, back and shoulders.
“Keep swapping between different chairs and sitting surfaces”, Dr Rajesh says.
You can choose from a kitchen table, coffee table, or the dining table to even a standing posture. When you keep changing your sitting position, it will reduce pressure on one particular area, and the strain will migrate to different tissues.
Get up every 40 minutes
Just as you get up from your seat for tea/coffee breaks and to use the restroom while you are at work in the office, you need to get up and get away from your laptops at home as well. Take at least 5-minute break every 40 minutes to keep yourself healthy and in good shape.
Dr Rajesh advises, “Avoid staying seated for an extended period of time. Instead, take a walk around your house and take up small chores like filling up your water bottle. You can also do some quick stretches at your desk itself.”
Do not slouch
Slouching puts tremendous stress on your neck and spine. This may even lead to chronic pain if it is left unchecked for a long time. You can roll up a towel horizontally or use a pillow to fill up the hollow arch in the lower back. This will provide lumbar support and, therefore prevent pain.
Make your workstation ‘work-ready’
Even without your office chair and work table, you have to make certain minor changes to prevent work-from-home becoming a pain in your back. To begin with, keep the screen of your laptop just below your eye level. Elevate the height of your laptop screen to avoid straining your neck. You can do this by propping up your laptop with books to reach the required height. Next, you can also try increasing the font size to avoid putting a lot of strain on your eyes. Try putting a blue light filter on your screen.
The bottom line
Dr Rajesh summarizes his tips by saying, “to sum up, do some stretching exercises for both the neck and back, start yoga sessions at home, take short breaks every 40 minutes and get adequate hydration. Avoid heavy meals, instead have small meals multiple times a day to avoid increasing intra-abdominal pressure.”