The Pandemic Sprain/Strain
The Healthy View
Many of our patients have had to change their work setting over the past 5 months – transitioning to work from home, or an altered office space they aren’t used to. This has resulted in an increase in the number of neck and back pain cases brought to us since our return to the Clinic.
Some of our patients have reported working longer hours and are having a harder time separating their home and work lives. Not only are their work hours extended, but they’re also sitting for much longer stretches without any movement - not to mention, they haven’t been to a fitness club for a few months. And while this is one of the complicating factors workers are facing, the most common one we hear is about trying to work from a kitchen table or makeshift office that isn’t ergonomically set up like the one they left back in the middle of March.
Longer hours, increased time sitting, poor ergonomics, decreased levels of exercise, and elevated levels of stress have all resulted in more complaints of neck and lower back pain.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatments and remedies that are available to those that are experiencing the aches and pains associated with the pandemic sprain/strain. Whether it be a massage or some other manual therapy with one of our therapists, we can help reduce your level of pain and give you a routine of exercise to help prevent these symptoms from coming back. Please contact the Clinic to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists to help reduce your level of pain.
These tips can also help you self-manage the rigors of the work day from home.
Position your computer screen directly in front of you. Allow the muscles in your eyes to relax by following the 20/20/20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away from you.
Use your hand to support the telephone against your ear and alternate sides regularly. Do not cradle the phone between your ear and your shoulder or consider using a headset or speaker.
Sit upright and all the way to the back. Place a support cushion or roll against the arch of your low back for lumbar spine support.
Here are some tips to help you adjust your chair:
- Stand in front of the chair and adjust the height so that the highest point of the seat is just below your knee.
- Sit on the chair and make sure that your knees are bent at approximately a 90-degree angle when your feet are flat on the floor.
- Adjust the backrest forwards and backwards as well as up and down until it fits the hollow in your lower back.
- Sit upright with your arms hanging by your sides. Bend your elbows at about a right angle and adjust the armrest height until they barely touch the undersides of the elbows. Remove the armrest from the chair if the right level cannot be achieved.
- Lastly, don’t forget to take a quick stretch break or change position every 30 to 45 minutes. Your back, neck, and shoulders will thank you for it!
Dr. Lawrence Micheli, Clinic Manager, Sport Medicine Clinic, firstname.lastname@example.org