Since the onset of the COVID Pandemic, most of us have experienced our worlds turned upside down. Many of us are spending more time indoors, working from home and sitting. With this change in lifestyle, we have also lost our creative outlets for recharging our minds and our bodies. For many of us, our outlet was the gym, neighborhood walks, socializing during recreation and other engaging activities. However, with the turn in the weather, many of us have found ourselves with more idle time — sitting, watching television, reading and using our phones. From this, how many people have started to notice neck pain? Mid back pain? General stiffness in their body?
Take a moment to stop, find a quiet spot, and close your eyes. Try a full body scan — stat 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 feel they “cannot 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.
If you continue to experience neck and back pain after a week of trying these techniques, give us a call to schedule an evaluation and treatment to set you on the right path.