For many of us, the COVID pandemic brought a change in lifestyle. While the unpresented restrictions that turned our worlds upside down for nearly two years have predominantly been lifted, the shift to many people’s work situation has remained. For those who continue working from home, the days can easily be dominated by sitting and inactivity. This can result in physical symptoms including neck pain, back pain and general stiffness.
Take a moment, find a quiet spot, and close your eyes. Try a full body scan — start at your toes and work your way to the top of your head. What do you feel? Do you feel your toes gripping your shoes, your inner thigh muscles contracted, your posture leaning forward, the back of your neck feeling tight?
Many of these symptoms are a manifestation of a lack of movement, tension from stress and muscles that yearn for activity. There are several ways to improve the way you feel, which is all dependent on what your preference may be. Here are my three favorite options:
The first option is relaxation training with my favorite practice called Jacobson’s Progressive Relaxation. The process is simple, quick and is best done when you can decompress from the day. It starts by finding a quiet spot, sitting or lying down, and focusing your mind on the tension in your body. You begin from your feet and work your way upward. You contract muscle groups lightly and symmetrically for two to five seconds and then relax, then advance to the body region above. This is an excellent option for individuals who struggle to relax.
The second option is to focus on posture. Throughout the day, many of us find ourselves with our elbows resting on a chair, a desk or another surface in front of us. As the day moves on, we find our-selves slouching forward, letting our heads lean forward and feeling the effects of gravity. But many of us, engaged in our work, do not have time to stop and think about our posture or body position. To improve, I typically suggest setting a repeated smart watch, clock, or computer alert for every 30 minutes. When the timer sounds, this is your cue to reset your posture. Stand up, stretch, or walk around for a minimum of 30 seconds. Our bodies enjoy movement and changing positions frequently fulfills our need for movement.
Focus on Breathing
The third option is to focus on our breathing. With our “desk posture” when our arms are supported on a surface, we start to breath with our accessory muscle, namely our rest region. To improve breathing either lie down or sit in a supportive chair. Cross your arms, let your pelvis roll backward, and focus on letting the front of your abdomen, sides of your abdomen, and low back move with each breath. Focus on smooth and controlled breathing. This is also an excellent time to try a free, guided meditation app.
Start your journey to pain-free living today.
Our experts are committed to providing effective, efficient, and compassionate care to help you live a pain-free, active life. If you continue to experience neck and back pain after a week of trying these techniques, give us a call to schedule an evaluation. We will work with you to create a treatment plan to set you on the path toward optimal wellbeing.