Working From Home Is Destroying Your Body and What Can You Do To Prevent It?
Since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people around the world are working remotely. Although the measure was crucial in helping the virus not spread, it did not come without compromise. As the number of people working from home has increased, health care experts have seen a rise in work-related injuries that are distinctive to the home environment. That said, health care providers are hoping to reassure the remote workforce that many of these problems can be prevented or alleviated by taking simple steps to improve your at-home workspace.
In this article, we will continually stress the importance of movement. Why? Because when a muscle spends a long period of time in a short position, the muscle fibers start to create further links to hold the muscle in this shortened position. The specialized nerves of the muscles, known as spindles, are also shortened. This makes it difficult to stretch the muscle fibers back to their original length, as the spindles can resist it. Furthermore, the tissue surrounding the muscle fibers will also shorten to offer more support to the muscle fibers. As this tissue becomes too short and too tight, it becomes painful.
Regular activities such as walking to work, moving around the office for meetings and breaks, popping out for lunch, and a gym class in the evening: all help us move in and out of these undesirable positions. Sadly, this is much more difficult to achieve now (especially if you are also homeschooling). All these increase the chances of adaptive shortening of muscles and change the way we move overall. For some, this has resulted in significant pain. For others, it may just be an annoying pain or constant ache.
Either way, there are a few steps you can take to help your body adjust and avoid injury. In this post, we’ll take you through some of the main areas of your body that may be affected by this drastic change in daily routine.
Shoulder and neck pain
Shoulder and neck pain often occurs among people whose jobs are mostly computer-based. This is partly due to the posture we naturally stay in or sit when seated for a long period of time. In an office, usually, this time spent seated at the computer is usually split up with general movement around the office. Not all of us were prepared to work from home in these current conditions either. Many people have makeshift workstations set-up on countertops, dining room tables, or in the worst case, on the couch. You may feel pain in your shoulder or neck after working so long at home as our trapezius and erector spine muscles shorten as working on a computer.
Usually, our shoulders climb closer to our ears as our heads move closer and closer to the screen (sometimes without us even realizing). When the trapezius and erector spinal muscles shorten, are shortened and tighten the small joints in our spine. This restricts our movement and prevents the muscles from reaching their healthy length. This ultimately leads to compression and inflammation of the spinal joints.
Hip pain and tightness
When we sit, the muscles around the hips shorten. But these muscles play an essential role in stabilizing the spine. They can adapt to a seated position but will shorten too much. In this case, they can pull the spine inward from the raised column (lordosis) in the direction of a curve when standing. This increased curvature will eventually cause conductive pain due to the shortening of the muscles. and compression and inflammation of the joints similar to those discussed above.
Lower back pain
Sometimes the lower back pain can be related to hip pain and a prolonged period of sitting hours. But sitting can also prompt the pelvis to tip into an excessive posterior tilt. Ultimately, this will put extra strain and aches on the lower back muscles as they try to maintain spinal stability. It will also cause more pressure on the lumbar spine.
How to prevent these muscle pains at home
It doesn’t matter how good your body posture is, sitting still for long periods damages your body.
Our advice remains the same across the board for each area of your body: movement is the cure. Undoubtedly, it is much harder to do this at the moment, especially when you’re a parent juggling homeschooling and work. But if you can section your day with regular movement breaks, your body will thank you for it.
Try to split up your household chores, so you’re moving your body in different positions. Yes, gyms are closed, but try to maintain your regular exercise routine at home. And, as much as we’re probably bored of the same walk, make the most of time outside.
When it comes to your workspace, at all costs avoid the couch or bed. Our muscles will strain and ache more when trying to keep us in a seated and stable position when we’re on a soft surface.
Use a laptop stand or place your computer upon decks of books to get it to eye level and reduce the strain on your neck. Position your keyboard so your shoulders are not too high up or too low as this could cause spinal curvature. If you can alternate between seated and standing positions for working, this will also be beneficial to reducing muscle pains. Try taking phone calls while walking around the house, or join your Zoom meeting while standing instead of sitting. Any movement you can incorporate into your work routine, no matter how small, will help.
We’ve included some simple exercises and stretches below to help ease some pains you’re experiencing. Use these to help add some movement to your day.
But if you want extra treatment and faster recovery from the muscle pains, Kinesio Tape can help inhibit pain and muscle spasm caused by sitting or staying in one position too long.
Apart from that, it can be used to help improve muscle to work as it should or normally, making it the perfect drug-free solution for your muscle pains.
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