The Pain of Pandemics
It’s been over 12 months since the nation was instructed to start working from home where possible and avoid travelling to and from the office. For many, this meant a shorter commute (down the stairs via the kitchen) and a little bit of extra money in the budget that would otherwise have been eaten up by travel costs. Working from home sounds great, right?
Whether you’re a fan of working from home or not, it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t changed the way we spend our days. Convenience is key, so there’s a good chance that everything has found its way closer to our computer chairs: the bathroom, the kettle and the ‘break room’ are no longer at the end of a long corridor and we don’t have the distraction of chatting to colleagues as we pass through. There’s no power-walk across the car park with loaded bags or charge up the stairs to make a meeting. Again, this might be a blessing in some respects, but what are the implications longer-term?
How the pandemic changed our habits
In general, we’ve found that clients are spending more time in the same positions during the course of the day. Even if you get the chance to break up the day with a walk at lunch, spending several hours at a time in front of the screen (or screens) can cause discomfort when there’s no variety. Our bodies are living organisms and require movement to stay healthy. Joints are lubricated by the movement of fluids as the muscles around them contract, whilst tendons and ligaments need to be loaded regularly to stay strong. When we go for long periods with minimal movement, these processes can be disturbed and things can get uncomfortable. The most common areas that problems seem to show up in are necks and backs, so what can we do about it?
Here are our 3 top tips when working from home!
Before we even consider other factors, making sure we stay mobile and give our bodies the variety they crave is key. Do you take mobile phone calls at work? This could be an opportunity to get and and walk around as you talk. If you have a laptop stand and usually work at a desk, can you raise the computer up and spend a few minutes working on your feet? If you’re in a virtual meeting, can you turn the video off and work on the move? This is going to be very individual and look different for everyone, but over the course of the day these little movement breaks can make a big difference. Start with a goal of moving every 15-20 mins and see how many extra steps you manage before it’s time to log off.
2) Exercise regularly
Now so more than ever, having a break from the office and staying active is hugely important in maintaining our physical and mental health. If home-workouts have become the new normal, choose some exercises that challenge your joints and muscles in different positions – push overhead, rotate and raise up to provide that variety. If gym-style workouts aren’t for you, just going for a walk or jog moves our bodies through different ranges and gets the heart pumping. Even if you don’t have much time to spare, over the course of the week the little things really do add up.
3) Office set-up
Although we advocate for frequent movement and varying positions, it always helps to set ourselves up in a comfortable position to start off. Simple things like getting screens up to eye level makes the neck’s job a bit easier, and finding a seating position that lets you rest your elbows on the desk without leaning over can take a bit of strain off your back. When it comes to seating position, comfort is key. It sounds obvious, but we see a lot of clients who sit in bolt-upright positions without back support because it fits the traditional idea of ‘good posture’. In reality, if we’re moving frequently, it makes sense to sit in whatever positions feel the most comfortable and provide as much variety as possible.
Would you like some ‘movement break’ ideas to keep you mobile throughout the day? Click here to download our free Working From Home program!
If you’ve been struggling with a neck or back problem in the last few weeks, speak to a member of the team and see if we can help. Click here to book online now!