Working or learning from home for extended amounts of time have taken a toll on many of our bodies and as a result, our whole wellbeing. In fact, according to the National Spine Health Foundation, neck or back pain is the number one cause of loss of work productivity and contributes to declined mental health that can lead to clinical depression.
At Tannenbaum Chiropractic in Beverly Hills, we believe in promoting whole person wellness. With the following practical spine habits to implement into your daily life, you can ensure working from home will serve you and your overall health—from your neck, to your back, to your emotional wellbeing.
1. Setting up an Ergonomic Workspace
One of the first things you should do in order to maintain spinal health while working from home is to ensure your at-home workspace is ergonomic. While a high quality ergonomic office chair is optimal, it is not required for improvement. You simply need a chair that allows you to keep both feet on the floor, and a desk that keeps your work device at eye level. This will allow you to sit up straight without straining your neck to see while keeping your lower back supported. As tempting as it is to work from a comfortable bed or couch, doing so forces your body into an unnatural position and will result in neck and back pain. Some people prefer using a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball—these are great ways to add variance, but device height and posture are still important to be conscious of.
Because you are spending your work day sitting, setting up a more ergonomic workspace is the foundation of maintaining a healthy spine while working from home.
2. Maintaining Proper Posture
Even if you have an optimal workspace, you still must consciously maintain good posture to really see improvement in your spinal health. Consciously making the decision not to slouch in your office chair or sit with your legs and feet under you can be difficult, but it is crucial to building spinal strength and easing lasting back pain.
The best sitting posture is more than just sitting up straight. You want your head and shoulders directly facing forward, with your knees at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. When you stand, maintain similar posture, but keep your shoulders relaxed and chest heart-center while resisting the urge to slouch. The more you allow your spine to collapse when you slouch, the weaker your back becomes, causing difficulty sitting up straight and causing pain in and out of work hours. If you don’t try to keep healthy posture out of your chair, it will make it harder to form a healthy habit in your chair.
3. Take Regular Breaks
Not only are screen breaks important for your eyes and mental health, but implementing regular breaks throughout the day will help alleviate back and neck pain by allowing movement to loosen up the spine, joints, and muscles by hitting a sort of reset switch.
Just hourly micro-breaks of alternating from standing to sitting, and taking a small walk around the room and stretching your muscles can make big improvements. Doing breathing exercises as you move your body for just a few minutes at a time will keep your joints and muscles warm, and promote connected mind/body awareness.
4. Exercise and Stretch Daily
Even if you aren’t engaging in a full work out, just a simple morning stretch sequence can help maintain the flexibility of your spine and therefore keep pain at bay. Even doing stretches while sitting at your desk can help! Practice neck hygiene (avoid doing neck circles which can cause strain), stretch out your arms, and even stand to do a quick forward fold or leg stretch.
Need help with ideas for daily movement? Check out our morning stretch routine that will warm your joints and muscles to prepare your spine and body for the day. You can also implement these exercises into your regular micro-breaks.
5. Healthy Daily Habits
It may seem unrelated, but eating healthy and maintaining overall healthier habits like abstaining from smoking, or keeping alcohol at a minimal level can really improve your spinal health. When you feel healthy inside and out, it is easier to remain conscious of your daily habits and choose the right ones. This is also in part because keeping a regular sleep schedule is crucial to your spine’s health.
Optimal spinal health is directly impacted by your sleep posture and overall sleep hygiene. A bad night sleep tossing and turning can cause you to wake up with immediate pain that is hard to overcome the rest of the day. To help, ensure you have a comfortable, but supportive mattress and pillows—and don’t overdo it with the pillows, which will create an unnatural neck position. You want to optimally avoid certain sleep positions like side-sleeping or sleeping on your stomach, which do not support the lower back or neck. Just like you do when sitting at your desk or standing, try your best to keep your body in alignment as you sleep. This will not only help you avoid neck and back pain in general, but will also have you starting your day on a positive note, encouraging healthy wellbeing the rest of the day.
Overall, creating and maintaining healthy habits at home is up to you. That said, the Tannenbaum Chiropractic team at our boutique Beverly Hills facility is dedicated to helping you maintain them. We can help ensure that your spine’s health remains optimal, keeping your body pain free and your whole self happy and healthy.
Call Tannenbaum Chiropractic of Beverly Hills today for a free consultation, and alleviate your neck and back pain as we continue to work from home in 2021!