A lot of people have been working remotely since the pandemic began sweeping the U.S. in March, which adds up to nearly 1,000 hours of sitting on a couch or in a makeshift home office. All of that time can lead to some serious problems if you aren’t sitting properly or taking time to be active. Here are some tips for preventing and relieving those pains.
Reduce Pain With a More Ergonomic Setup at Home
According to an article from Yale Environmental Health and Safety, there are certain steps you can take to make your home office comfortable while you work.
Even if you think you have the perfect office setup, you should not be sitting all day. Switch between sitting down and standing up. You should try to stand up or move around every 30 minutes.
Looking down with your chin tucked toward your chest for long periods of time can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. You can fix this by raising your monitor to eye-level by propping it up on books or a small box.
Rest Your Eyes
Look away from your monitor or screen from time to time — you should not be staring at it for hours on end. Glance away from your screen every now and then, and make sure the rest of your office is well-lit to prevent a glare on the screen.
Perfect Your Posture
The perfect posture for sitting at a desk is to sit all the way back in your chair and keep your hips and knees at 90-degree angles with your feet resting on the floor or something else.
“You want to keep your head above your shoulders and your shoulders above your hips,” said Dr. Kevin Moran, an orthopedic surgeon at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group. “This is the neutral position for the spine with the least amount of pressure on the joints and discs.”
Keep Arms Close
Keep your elbows comfortably close to your midsection, since holding your arms out to reach a keyboard can cause pain.
Consider Your Chair
If you still feel uncomfortable after these tips, try testing out different chairs that prevent you from leaning or straining.
Ways to Relieve Back and Neck Pain
If you are currently experiencing pain in any of your joints, start with these tips.
Ice, Heat, and Rest
Apply an ice pack to the aching joint for 15-20 minutes, and then take it off. Repeat this several times throughout the day. Try a heating pad the next day. Avoid any activity that causes you pain, and try to rest as much as possible.
It may seem wrong to get up and move when experiencing neck and back pain, but it can actually help reduce aches. However, you need to be thoughtful about what exercise you choose. Opt for something gentle and low-impact, instead of an intense, quick-moving workout.
“The best exercise for a back that is hurting is walking or swimming,” said Dr. Moran. “Sitting and lying down lead to further deconditioning.”
Medication and Supplements
Certain supplements, like glucosamine and chondroitin, are known to reduce arthritic joint pain, and over-the-counter medications such as Aleve or Tylenol can help treat some pain and aches. Always consult with your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements.
If your pain persists after trying these solutions, speak with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group orthopedic specialist about ways to treat it. The sooner you are able to incorporate some of these tips into your work-at-home lifestyle, the sooner you can start to feel better.
Healthline | Tips to Get Relief from Joint Pain At Home Yale Environmental Health and Safety | Ergonomics The Washington Post | How to Deal with Aches and Pains