BY DAVID SINGLETON
Many of us have now spent months working from home, often laboring day in and day out from makeshift workspaces set up at old desks or at dining room tables.
It’s starting to take its toll.
At Dunmore Family Chiropractic, 439 E. Drinker St., the practice is seeing an increase in patients presenting neck, midback and shoulder pain, said Taylor Perry, D.C., one of the owners.
The symptoms are consistent with upper crossed syndrome, which is linked to poor posture, she said. In many patients, it can be attributed to the strain that working at home under less than ideal circumstances is putting on their bodies.
“Some people have been working from home so long that they are starting to get symptoms,” she said. “They all have that same complaint, that upper neck tension and pain.”
One of the major issues with working from home, Perry said, is forward head posture, particularly when sitting for long periods. Ideally, our posture should have our ears in line with our shoulders, she said. Because of the way many home work stations are set up, a lot of people are looking down at their computers, which causes the head to flex forward and puts strain on the muscles at the back of the neck.
In addition, the shoulders can round forward, putting the upper body in a hunched position, which can weaken both the neck and abdominal muscles, Perry said.
The first line of defense is to position your computer — and your tablet and smartphone, for that matter — at eye level so you are not looking down for prolonged periods of time, Perry said. That will help the body maintain its natural and correct posture.
In addition, if you don’t have a good chair for your workspace, invest in one with lumbar support, Perry said.
“One thing we are seeing is just people using a kitchen chair, which has no support,” she said. “The lumbar support pushes the lower back forward to coincide with your natural posture.”
Even the finest posture won’t prevent aches and pains if you sit too long in one place. On its website, the Temple University Health System recommends people working at home set a timer as a reminder to get up every hour and move.
It suggests stretching and walking around, bending over and touching your toes, doing jumping jacks, running in place, rolling your shoulders slowly or doing arm circles.
Perry endorses the idea of a break every hour.
“Stretch your neck out. Stretch your shoulders out. Walk around a little bit,” she said. “Humans are not meant to sit as much as we do. We are meant to be active and all this sitting is not good for us.”
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9132
Simple home workspace exercises
- Wall slide: Stand with your back against the wall, feet hip-distance apart. Slowly slide your back down the wall until you’re in a sitting position. Slowly slide back up the wall.
- Bridge back stretch: Lie on your back with your knees bent toward the ceiling, feet firmly on the floor. Slowly raise your hips in the air, then bring them back down to the floor.
- Crunches: Lie on your back with both knees bent toward the ceiling, feet firmly on the floor. Place your hands across your chest in a crisscross. Focus on your core and lift your shoulders off the floor a few inches, holding your neck in a neutral position. Lower yourself back down to the floor.
SOURCE: TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM