Almost everyone these days is stuck at home, and most are forced to work in at home environments that are less than ideal. While we are still open for those that are in pain, if you can't make it in for treatment, here are some tips to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your spine as healthy as possible.
1. Check Your Ergonomics
I have heard from a number of patients in the past week that are suffering from increased neck and upper back pain after being forced to work from home. Although their office workstations are likely set us as ergonomically as possible, they are finding that at home they are having trouble getting their home offices set up properly. If you can only correct one thing about your at home set up, it should be the placement of your monitor. Your monitor should be set up directly in front of you with the top of the monitor at eye level. Most people keep their monitors lower than they should. An easy at home fix for this problem is placing books underneath you monitor until is reaches the proper height.
Monitor placement can be especially difficult if you are forced to use a laptop while working from home. To help, place your laptop on a platform or stack of books until it is the proper height. Then, use an external keyboard instead of the laptop keyboard. You can find a cheap external keyboard for under $20, and you neck will thank you!
2. Use Your At Home Tools
If you've been a patient at CORE for any length of time, you have almost certainly been recommended to use a neck wedge. This is a great at home tool for people that spend all day on a computer. Over time, most people that sit at computers for long periods begin to develop forward head carriage, which leads to neck pain and headaches. The neck wedge helps restore the normal curve of the neck, and can help correct forward head posture. The neck wedge is always important, but even more so if you can't make it in for your regular adjustments. For instructions on how to use the neck wedge, click here.
Other great at home tools that we regularly recommend to patients are foam rollers and lacrosse balls. Foam rollers are great to help stretch out the muscles in the legs that often become tight in patients that sit a lot. Tight hamstring and gluteal muscles are one of the most common causes of lower back pain. Lacrosse balls can help work out knots in the neck and upper back that are caused by sitting with poor posture. You can find instructions for foam rollers and lacrosse balls here.
3. Don't Forget to Exercise
With everything that is going on right now, it is easy to forget about the importance of taking care of ourselves, and that includes regular exercise. And with gyms now closed for the foreseeable future, many now have an additional hurdle they have to overcome. However, exercise is an extremely important factor in our health, even spinal health. Being inactive causes muscles to tighten up, which over time leads to neck and back pain. Inactivity is one of the most common causes of back pain.
You don't have to have a gym to exercise, there are plenty of things you can do from the comfort of your home. Just search for "at home workouts" on Google or YouTube and you'll find all kinds of different workout programs. You don't even have to perform particularly strenuous exercise. Even walking around the neighborhood for 30 minutes a few times a week will help keep your joints moving. Just remember to keep your social distance!