Now that many of us are working from home because of COVID19, the incidents of people reporting back pain seems to have risen. Others complain of pain in their hands, or neck or shoulders. Do you have back pain from sitting too long?
Why is that? Are we working longer? Are we under more stress? Are you, like me, working from a laptop at a kitchen table? Or sometimes sitting on your bed with your laptop?
I am sure most of us can not buy ergonomic furniture to improve our situation and therefore our posture. But we can practice some other activities that will help relieve some of the discomfort.
Some Recommendations for Relieving Back Pain
“What?”, you may say. But this is the first step to addressing the pain. Get up and take a short break. After all, you do that at work anyway, right? Walk around for a few minutes. Go outside and walk around the house. I’m not talking about a long break. Just a few minutes to clear your head, get some fresh air and rest your eyes.
I now practice setting an alarm for ½ hour. I work hard for that time frame, then my alarm sounds and I get up and move. Adjust the times to your preference, but in any event MOVE! Trust me, you will work better and feel better.
A side benefit is tracking my work output. I now know how much time I am spending on a project and can plan better.
You knew I was going to say that, right? Our bodies were made to move, not sit. Most of us are sitting way too long. (I was a letter carrier for a few years. Kept in great shape! Letter carriers have one of the longest life spans. Tells you something, doesn’t it?)
Ideally we should walk in the morning, in the evening and any other time that we can fit in. It seems counter-intuitive when you are in pain to move, but movement is actually like applying a pain ointment.
Not only will it help you decrease your pain but there are so many other benefits. It is good for your heart, strengthens your bones, reduces fat and increases muscle. I have been inspired in my neighborhood to see people walking even though they are obviously in pain. They are my heros! (Because I live with chronic pain and I know how hard it is to move when you hurt.)
There are more benefits if you have stairs. My friend recommended I take the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment. She said it might help my butt pain. Although it hasn’t addressed that pain yet, I know my heart is in better shape after just a few weeks. I’m not sucking air like I did before.
Sit up straight! If necessary use a rolled up towel against your lower back to force you to do so. Adjust the keyboard so you don’t have to bend over to reach it.
Your neck should be held at an upright position. Raise the screen to eye level so you aren’t bending all day.
Have your arms at right angles to your body. Rest your hands lightly on the desk so your fingers can move freely on the keyboard.
Plant your feet firmly on the floor. This helps you sit up straight.
You can maintain this position for that ½ hour I am recommending, right? Trust me, you will see payoffs immediately.
I have recommended two DVDs that I use for daily stretching. See these two articles if you want to investigate further. Emily Lark’s Back to Life. Jane Adams Gentle Yoga. They are both based on yoga principles, which have been promoted to help with balance, flexibility, and pain relief.
There are hundreds of options out there. You could do a Google search to find lots of free options.
If you don’t want to search right now, but just want some relief, here’s what I recommend. (They take only a few minutes.)
- Sit on the floor, stretch legs as far apart as is comfortably possible. With straight back, lean from the hips forward, stretching your hands out in front of you. Do not over stretch or cause yourself pain. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Breathe slowly with your face loose.
- Lie on your back with legs straight out. Leaving one leg straight, bring the other leg up to your chest by bending it and pulling it with your hands/arms. Do at least 5 times on each leg.
- Sit straight in an upright hard chair, about half way back. Cross one leg over the other, so that it is parallel to the floor. Bend the foot so it is tense. Push on that knee with the same side hand, so that you are pushing it toward the floor. Hold for 15 seconds. If you don’t feel the stretch, lean forward a little till you do.
I found this video of stretches that you can do at home. Just a minute long! Hope it helps you feel better!
Because our necks take lots of tension as we work at our computers it is vital that we focus on stretching it during the day. One thing I learned in neck stretching is to never push your head with your hand. Let the weight of your head stretch your neck.
Here are a two suggestions:
- Slowly turn your head to the right and the left as far as is comfortable. Turn to each side five times.
- Lean your head to each shoulder, slowly, as far as is comfortable. Do this five times each side.
Do your fingers ache from working at the computer? Or your wrists? One action I have been doing is to use my other hand. It’s kind of clunky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. It really does save your dominant hand.
I copied these images from Pinterest. They should help.
For your hands:
For your wrists:
If you have access to a pool, then water movement is highly recommended. Even if you can’t swim, walking and or any type of movement in the water is very helpful. The water holds your body up and provides less stress on your knees and gives you more resistance as you move.
Biking is an activity that isn’t for everybody, but I found great relief from my buttock pain when I ride. It seems that the position of bending over and extending my legs helps to relieve the nerve pain.
Just a few minutes of any exercise can be very helpful and therapeutic. Exercise has so many other benefits which I haven’t discussed in this article.
Here is a link to some different exercises that you can do, some of which you can do from your chair. They are easy and quick.
Mental Health; Being Present
Let’s not forget our state of mind through all this. I understand that this time in our history is very anxiety producing. I don’t have any quick answers, but I know that talking about it helps just about anyone. Therefore I hope you have someone you can talk to if you are anxious or depressed.
If you don’t, email me in the comments below. I’ll see if I can find an organization to reach out to you.
If you are looking to just calm yourself, all the above exercises will help you. Practicing mindfulness meditation can also help your state of mind. See my article for information about how to practice it by clicking this link. Just remember, you can’t do anything about the past, other than learn from your mistakes. You have no control over the future other than to plan for it. So be present, learn and plan.
Was this helpful? I sure hope so. I would love to hear your feedback on this topic. Especially if you found the exercises helpful. Or if you have recommendations for other exercises or stretches, let me know. Your comments are welcome.
I am not a medical professional. I am a chronic pain sufferer. I spend hours researching natural pain remedies. And then I write about them, in hopes someone might find some relief. So, I recommend you always speak to your doctor before you start something new as far as physical exercise. If you are taking a class, be sure to tell your instructor of your issues.
Also, as an affiliate marketer, I sometimes include links in my posts to products that I recommend. I do not recommend any products in this post, so I do not have affiliate links here.