The COVID -19 pandemic has affected all of us this past year. Unfortunately, it has also affected our spines. As a chiropractor who has been in private practice for more than 20 years, I have seen firsthand how pandemic life has caused increased neck and back pain in many people. Most of us have been working and attending school from home. We have been forced to improvise workstations using furniture we already have such as: kitchen tables, card tables and folding chairs, couches, etc. This puts unfamiliar stress on our bodies as we sit, lean and slouch in these improvised home offices. Combine that stress with a lack of exercise due to gyms being closed, commutes changed, and sports canceled, and pandemic life truly has taken a great toll on our physical well-being. However, there are ways to help keep your body in great shape- even in the pandemic!
Here are some ideas I recommend frequently to my patients to keep the body healthy and comfortable:
Set up a workspace where your body can be comfortable. It is important to have support for your back while sitting for long hours. You should be comfortable with your head positioned over your shoulders and try to keep your arms relaxed without reaching forward. The hips and knees should be bent close to 90 degrees and try your best to avoid crossing your legs.
Bring your work chair home if possible.
Perhaps your employer would even offer a stipend towards new furniture for a more ergonomic set up at home. This ensures that you will have a supportive chair to do work in.
Get up and move around throughout your day.
Try moving from table to couch (with pillows behind your back), then perhaps to your kitchen counter to stand if you have a laptop.
Get a glass of water, take your dog for a walk, do a 15minute yoga practice, etc. Moving will help keep your muscles happy!
Strengthen your core.
You do not need a gym membership to strengthen your core. Anyone, regardless of age or health condition can improve core strength. Exercise styles such as yoga and Pilates can be done at home (even outside) easily. You can find videos online of personal trainers, physical therapists, or even doctors demonstrating core exercises. Swimming, walking, biking, tennis, hiking and walking your dog are all great ways to enjoy the outdoors and gain more strength and stability.
It is important to make sure we are taking care of our bodies while navigating through these uncertain times. Taking measures to ensure you have the ideal workspace for your body will help to make this pandemic just a bit easier on us all.