Four Steps to Relieve the Pain of Working From Home  

Perhaps my number one diagnosis of late is spine strain from working in a non-ergonomic environment.  Coupled with housekeeping duties, pet or child care, meal prep, stress, and poor sleep, working from home can literally be A PAIN.  Fortunately, there are four easy steps that can reduce the strain, discomfort, and added stress physical pain brings.  

First, evaluate your work set up; being comfortable is key.  Phones should be on speaker, headset or earbuds.  Avoid holding a phone to your ear.  Consider a seat cushion or alternating chairs to relieve pressure points. Make sure wrists are straight, shoulders relaxed. Human Factors Applications created this guide to computer and chair positioning.  

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Second, make sure you are taking breaks, at least once an hour.  Staying hydrated will prevent headaches, keep you healthy and force you to get up to the bathroom! You can download a stretch program such as Stretchclock, a break reminder app to alert you to stretch at intervals through your work day.  Keeping your drink and snack supply in another room will force you to get up.  A great physical therapy guided 2 minute stretch routine is Stretch Breaks at Your Desk       
Triceps stretchespectoralis stretchtrunk rotationUpper trap stretch
See above stretches with movement at: Stretches to Do At Work Every Day by Healthline

Third, evaluate the severity of your pain.  Do you have limited motion, strength or sensation lasting more than a day?  If so, it would be wise to schedule a doctor visit.  A telemedicine visit can suffice to evaluate a need for testing or further treatment.  Physical therapists are always helpful even through virtual appointments.  

Do not push through pain if it is severe;  any number over 6 on a scale of 0=no pain to 10=worst pain ever.  Severe pain is also pain that wakes you from sleep.  If your pain is not severe, try ice or heat for 10 minutes along with Tylenol, Aleve or Advil as needed.

Fourth, schedule exercise at least five days a week.  Even a 10 minute stretch class or walk will suffice;  two 10 minute brisk walks would be great.  If you can’t get outside. alternate marching in place, a few stairs, and side stepping for 60 seconds or walk around the room alternating directions every minute.  Holding water bottles, raise your arms overhead and out front every other minute for upper body strength and motion.  For more formal workouts, refer to my previous blog Online Workout Advice from a Rehab Doctor

By preventing and relieving pain, these home treatments can make a big difference in both your physical and mental health.  Don’t ignore discomfort. If you have to, schedule relaxation and self-care time.  You need to be good to yourself now more than ever.

Follow me @DrNadyaSwedan on Twitter and @NYCMDworksout on Instagram for fitness and health advice.


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