We are living through an unprecedented time in our recent history. Many people have transitioned from their office work to working at home. Many have gone from working at a nice desk with dual monitors to now scrambling to get through their normal workload with a small laptop on their kitchen table. This situation places more stress on the spine. If you have found yourself in this situation here are 3 simple suggestions to follow to reduce stress on your spine:
Survival Tip #1: Move often
It goes without saying that movement throughout the workday is beneficial to all. When we are confined to a workstation for long periods of time, our muscles begin to adapt to the positions we place them in. If we are hunched over, slouching in our chair, our muscles will then take on that position. If we let this go on long enough, we will place ourselves at risk for injury. There are many options for exercise. Keep it simple. Get up, walk around your house, stretch– something other than what you are doing at your workstation.
Survival Tip #2: Breath
This one seems rather obvious, but it is one of the most important things you can do throughout the day. The main muscle of respiration is the diaphragm. With increased stress, we start relying on the muscles around our chest and neck to breathe. Without proper utilization of the diaphragm, we have to rely on those secondary muscles. When these muscles are overworked we start to develop tightness. Combine bad posture (see tip #1) with poor breathing, is it any wonder why we have so many people coming into the office with upper back and neck pain? Luckily, we know a thing or two about helping you with these aches and pains!
Practice breathing from your stomach rather than from your chest. This is simply done by lying on the floor or a bed, placing one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. When you breathe, make sure the hand on your stomach is the only one moving up and down. Try to keep the hand on your chest still. Give it a try and see how you feel.
Survival Tip #3: Workstation Ergonomics
If you fit into the “I-used-to-work-at-a-desktop-and-now-work-at-a-laptop” category, then this tip is vital for you. Every inch forward our head moves in front of our body adds more stress on our upper back and neck. Workstation ergonomics are very important to help maintain good posture and to decrease stress on our spine. Here is a mini checklist to get started:
- Chair: Your chair height should be such that it allows your hips and your knees to be at a 90-degree angle. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle to prevent wrist pain.
- Keyboard: Your keyboard should be a comfortable distance from the edge of your desk. Be sure your elbows are resting on the armrests of your chair (if available). There should only be a slight bend in your wrists while typing.
- Monitor: The top of your screen should be at or just below eye level. When the monitor is too low your head will move forward. This will place extra stress and strain on your neck and upper back. If you are using a laptop, it may be helpful to purchase a wireless keyboard so you can prop your computer up closer to eye level.
- Mouse: Your mouse should be close enough to the edge of the table so you won’t have to reach far. When the mouse is too far away, we are constantly reaching for it while performing hundreds of “mini shoulder shrugs” throughout the day. Don’t get caught in the “mousetrap”. Move it closer to you to take the stress and strain off your back and neck.
Be sure to take care of yourself during this time of change. Let’s make sure we take care of the body we have to reduce any unnecessary stress in our lives. Try these simple tips and let us know how they work for you.
About Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center
Located just outside of Salt Lake City and in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley, Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center is the premier chiropractic office in Utah. Drs. Monte Layton, Jeremy Wimmer, Chris Harbrecht, and Jordan Mousley specialize in providing care for many different conditions and injuries. Those in the community seek Elite’s care for low back pain, neck pain, shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist, hip, ankle, and foot pain. Call today to schedule your first appointment. 801-432-7511.