Working from home can be a pain in the neck (and back and legs…) if you’re not careful. Physical Therapist Chris McKenzie has some tips for staying tweak free.
Finally, some good COVID news! Working from home during the lockdown has led to a boom in small business startups across the country, freeing workers from meaningless jobs to become their own bosses.
The down side? It often requires long hours staring at a computer in a home office while you’re getting your dream off the ground. Doesn’t take long for those 10 hour days to take a toll on your body, particularly your back and neck. Chris McKenzie gave us a few simple tips for keeping pain free.
Start with a firm chair. (Or at the very least, avoid the couch.) Scoot yourself back in the chair until your back is against the chair and your hips are in the bend of the chair. If you don’t do that, you wind up rounding your lower back.
To help keep the natural curvature of your spine, try using a rolled towel (or lumbar roll) to better support your lower back. Place the rolled towel behind the small of your back.
When setting up your computer, make sure your monitor is at eye height. (If you’re looking down at your monitor, your head will have an automatic tendency to tilt downward, putting strain on the neck muscles. Fun fact: This is also the source of “text neck” which is common to cellphone junkies who crane their necks to look at their screens.)
If you sit at your desk for marathon sessions, your body’s eventually gonna slump, leading to some aches and pains. Simply put, it’s easier for our bodies to slump than to sit straight. To fight that tendency, it’s best to take a break every 30 minutes (or an hour) to get away from the desk — stand up and stretch, walk around, go get some water, use the bathroom. If you’ve got a standing desk, you can switch from standing to sitting regularly to keep the blood flowing and reduce muscle fatigue.
To help you remember to take a break, I recommend setting your cellphone timer (or getting an app on your phone or desktop that’ll remind you).
These exercises help counteract the effects of spending too much time in a seated position.
- Stand up straight. Place your hands on the small of your back.
- Bend backward as far as possible, keeping your knees straight. Hold for 2 seconds. Return to the starting position. (10 reps)
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend forward at your hips, keeping your knees straight. Reach your hands toward the floor.
- Pause for 1 to 2 seconds. Return to starting position. (6 reps)
For more health tips and exercises, visit mckenziesportsphysicaltherapy.com. Keep them in mind if a nagging pain or physical limitation is affecting your lifestyle.
Dr. Chris McKenzie is a board-certified sports and orthopedic physical therapist. In more than 10 years of practice, he has helped thousands of athletes achieve their full potential who are now playing in elite college programs, with professional teams and for the US Olympic team. He has also been an adjunct professor at Drexel University.
McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy
3425 N Conrad St. (East Falls)