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Of the many changes that came on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home is among the biggest. Millions of people around the world have had to carve out spaces in their homes to work, often pressing dining rooms or other areas into service. As a result, these less-than-ideal “offices” are taking their tolls on our bodies, especially our necks.
If you’ve developed a case of what we refer to as, “tech neck,” our team of orthopaedic experts here at Western Orthopaedics has some tips that will help protect your spine in your home office.
If you’ve been perched on a dining room chair or slouched on a couch to work, one of the first things you should do is to create a more ergonomic work space. First, invest in an office chair that offers ample support for your spine. Perhaps your employer will even help foot the bill.
Next, ensure that you’re not looking down at your screen. Instead, position your screen straight in front of your face when you hold your head up. There are plenty of devices on the market that can raise laptops and computer screens on your desk, but even a few books or some blocks can do the trick. This move alone can save you from nagging neck pain as you can straighten your cervical spine and release the pressure on your shoulders.
You may have heard the expression, “Sitting is the new smoking,” and there’s some merit to this. Humans are designed to move, and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are wreaking havoc on our bodies, especially our spines.
Sitting can place up to 90% more pressure on your spine than standing, so it’s important that you remember to offset this pressure throughout the day. For example, take frequent breaks to get up and walk around. Better still, use this time to stretch your spine — simple toe touches are a great place to start.
When you’re seated, please mind your posture and ensure that:
To achieve the ideal position for your back and neck, arch your back as far as it will go and then release the position by about 10%.
If you spend a lot of time on the phone, we urge you to get a headset or use the speaker function more often. Holding a phone to your ear cranks your head and neck, which can lead to nagging pain.
There are many steps you can take to relieve neck pain outside of your working hours, especially while you sleep. When you sleep, you want your spine to rest in a neutral position, which means there isn’t any pressure on one area. To achieve this, it’s important not to force your head up too high with a large pillow.
Instead, try a pillow that supports your head and neck equally and keeps these two areas in a straight line.
As well, try sleeping on your back, which is the best sleeping position for your spine.
If you develop neck pain despite your best efforts, we’re here to help. As spine specialists, we offer a wide range of treatment options for neck pain, including injections, physical therapy, and regenerative medicine. To learn more, contact one of our two offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado, to set up an appointment.