In this self-isolation world we’re living in, it has us all rethinking how we operate our lives day to day while staying at home…ALL THE TIME! Many of us are working from home. It’s either you don’t have at home work station or your working at home set-up is not supporting your body for proper posture. As another component of our health and wellness series, we reached out to Dr. Nimira Alibhoy to help us sort out best practices to stay upright and in less pain during these times. Isolating yourself and your family shouldn’t have to be any harder than it already is!
Here is some excellent advice. Stay healthy, happy, and Cannapolitan!
Written by Dr Nimira Alibhoy, Upper Cervical Chiropractor
Just 7 short weeks ago everything was pretty “normal.”
We woke up and took care of our morning routines, dropped off the kids if we had them, and then made our way to work or home office. In the last 7 weeks, all the above has really become utter chaos for most of us – even the most organized. We are learning to let go of the routine or find a new one. Once that is conducive to our new “safer at home” lifestyle.
What does this mean for those of us whose normal was to go into an office or take client meetings at coffee shops, restaurants and other places outside our home? It means more time at a computer!
Think about it, are you spending time at the computer:
- Making current client follow up calls
- Making new sales calls
- On team meetings
- Checking your email
- Prepping online documents
- Working on spreadsheets/databases/etc.
Is this you?
Now, take a moment and picture your home. Do you have a home office? Have you been working in your bedroom, the family room, or the dining table for the last month? Are you sitting at a proper desk top computer or creating a makeshift workspace with a laptop?
How are you sitting while using your makeshift workspace? I have had more calls in the recent weeks with patients who have new neck pain, back pain and headaches because they aren’t taking the time to set up their space properly and are now suffering the consequences of chronic poor posture.
How does this happen?
When we sit at a computer that isn’t in the proper positioning, we tend to move our bodies to be able to use it best. Many people will crisscross their legs and plop their laptop on their lap with their head bent over if they’re on their bed or sofa. At a desk, many people who have been sitting for to long will lean into or over their keyboard to get closer to the screen.
Why does this matter?
Our head weighs 10 -12 pounds. It sits on a beautiful reverse shaped c-curve of a neck which was designed to hold the weight of your head without you ever feeling it! Due to a whiplash style injury or chronic poor posture, you can potentially loose proper alignment and continue to move into what’s called a forward head posture. Every inch that our head sits forward on our shoulders on a poor curve adds 10 extra pounds of force to our neck and shoulders!
Still wondering why your neck and shoulders are hurting? On top of that, because we’re no longer in that proper posture, pressure is placed on our brainstem’s ability to function well too. Our brain stem is responsible for things like blood pressure, parts of sleep, breathing, and heart rate. Many of our body’s autonomic or automatic processes become affected when we lose this good posture and hinder our brainstem’s ability to function properly.
How can we support ourselves during this time?
First you need to look at your set up:
- Make sure you are at a table and chair
- This can be a desk, folding table, or your dining room table.
- If you have a desktop
- Make sure you lift the monitor using books if you need to bring your vision to the upper 1/3 of your screen so you can use your peripheral vision to look down without bending your head.
- Bring your keyboard to a level that allows your arms to feel relaxed. You don’t want to have to lift them and keep the muscles tense in your forearms to be able to type. You may need to lift your chair to do so.
- If you feel like you’re too low in your chair, grab a pillow to sit on and lift you up. If you have shorter legs you may need to grab a box or stool to place under your feel to keep them comfortable and relaxed as well.
- If you have a laptop
- Stay at a desk if you can – because the screen is attached it’s a little bit harder to get better posture and you will end up looking down at your screen more than you would with a separate monitor.
- Again, lift the laptop as close as possible to bringing your vision to the upper 1/3 of your screen.
- To support your arms which must reach a higher keyboard, try rolling a hand towel or small blanket to keep in front of the laptop on the table edge to support your forearms.
- As before, make sure you lift your body if needed by sitting on a pillow.
- If you must sit on a sofa or a bed to get away from a public space for a quiet call – sit cross-legged with a big pillow in your lap and then the laptop on top of it. This will allow you to keep the laptop high enough, so your head isn’t bent down in a forward posture. If you need to be in this posture, try and limit this time to only 30 minutes.
Next, take breaks!
One of the benefits of this time is that many people and employers are a little more relaxed and forgiving in the level of professionalism that is expected working from home with your whole family there. Take breaks when you can and try not to schedule all your time in front of the computer back to back. Set alarms on your phone or schedule it into your calendar as blocked time to stand up and walk to the kitchen to grab some water, or step outside for 10 seconds of fresh air and deep breathing.
Lastly, be good to your body.
Take time to stretch every day. Yoga is a wonderful tool when done safely to stretch and strength your posture and core muscles. Get outside and get walking, spend some time focused on your posture while you walk. Spend at least 15 minutes laying on your back with your neck over a small rolled towel to help reset your neck into the proper cervical curve. This may not correct any structural issues you may have, but it can help temporarily relax your muscles to remind them of what normal neutral posture feels like. If you’re still struggling, please remember that chiropractors are considered essential care providers in almost all states and not all are the same! A specific painless adjustment can help you get on the right track to improving your structure and function so you can help your body adapt through this time with ease.
About Dr. Nimira Alibhoy
Dr. Nimira offers a unique approach to chiropractic that helps her patients see lasting results in many areas of health concern in their lives. She is one of very few upper neck specialists practicing in Southern California who focus on using science and technology to read function and make specific adjustments to the neck only when necessary. Her passion is the science of natural healing and offers limited adjustments, lasting results.
You can hear her recent podcast on work from home survival here: https://anchor.fm/drnimira/episodes/Why-does-my-head-feel-like-a-bowling-ball-on-my-shoulders-ecof0e/a-a1pvsn
And follow her Facebook Page with daily tips in May for Correct Posture Month: http://www.facebook.com/drnimira
For more information on working with Dr Nimira or finding a specialist near you, reach out here: