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Your office might have a different look these days. Millions of Americans are working from home and adjusting to a new workplace setup. If you don’t have a home office, that means your kitchen table may have replaced your office desk and your couch (or bed) is being used in place of your usual office chair. The changes may provide a bit of initial comfort—and quicker access to the kitchen—but working while lounging can produce soreness and potentially more serious injuries. Even if you’re back in the office, sitting in the same position for hours on end can have negative side effects resulting in neck and back pain. There’s no certain way to get out of having to work, but there are a few tricks to make sure if you are working, at least your neck and back are taking on less work throughout the day, limiting pain down the road. Work can be a stressful place; don’t make it one that produces injuries too.
Practice good posture
When you’re sitting down, keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Your head should be in a neutral position looking forward. To help maintain this position, adjust the height of your chair to keep your knees at a 90-degree angle, or even allow your thighs to angle toward the ground a bit. This position distributes weight evenly and is easier on your neck and back. While sitting on the couch or laying in your bed may be tempting, it doesn’t allow your body to maintain a healthy posture for long and could eventually lead to back and neck soreness.
Eyes even with the monitor
Adjust your chair and monitor position so that your screen is in front of you with your nose even with the center of the monitor. This might mean adding some books underneath your laptop to raise it up to face level. If your monitor is too low, you’ll strain your neck by looking down the whole day. If the monitor is above face level, you could hurt your neck bending it back to look up. Attach your laptop to a larger monitor to make it easier to use without straining your neck.
Stand and stretch
Maintaining any position for too long can cause problems. It’s easy to get locked in at work, but make sure to take a few minutes every so often to get up, walk away from your desk and stretch. If you’re able to, consider setting an alarm every hour. When it goes off, step away for a minute, do a lap around your home or office and move your body. If you’d rather not step away from your desk, consider investing in a standing desk. A standing desk will allow you to stay focused on your work. When you use a standing desk, make sure to give your back a break by doing some portion of your work upright each day. If you don’t have access to a standing desk, you could make a standing desk by stacking books under your monitor.
Be smart about phone use
Some jobs require you to be on the phone throughout the day. If this is a requirement of your job, be smart about how you’re using your phone. If you’re speaking on the phone, consider a handless headset. This will keep you from leaning your neck toward one side. It also frees up your hands to work on something else. Any tasks that you can accomplish by using your computer should be done there instead of on a smartphone. When you answer emails, texts or surf the internet on your phone, you typically bend your neck forward to look at it which causes neck strain.
Healing neck and back pain
Sometimes work can cause mental pain, but it hopefully shouldn’t cause you physical pain. If you find yourself experiencing neck or back pain caused by your workday routine, make sure to seek medical attention. Ignoring the pain will only make it worse. For neck and back pain, consider speaking with a chiropractor. Chiropractors specialize in pain relief, particularly for neck and back strain. Because of their specialty, a chiropractor can create a recovery plan that’s unique to your needs and advise you on more tips to avoid continued pain. Getting better faster means you can leave your pain behind and focus on your day job.
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