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Working at Home Can Cause Serious Back Injuries

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) came to the United States, many companies have decided to send their employees to work from home. But, there is an unfortunate side effect to this shift in the way people work: back pain and neck pain.

Those who are not used to working from home or that do not have a proper office set-up have reported spending long hours sitting or lying on their sofas and even beds with a tablet or laptop in their lab. While it may feel comfortable at first, these positions can strain the back and neck after a long day.

At Med Plus Centers, we have received many patients with symptoms of spine misalignment and back pain. Many patients fail to realize what is affecting their bodies and do not recognize the symptoms soon enough to avoid further complications.

Here is an scenario:

  • Patient: Hello, doctor. Since I started working at home, I feel like my back is burning, and at night I don’t sleep well because of the severe back pain. With some medications, I can reduce the pain, but the next day, it returns with greater intensity.
  • Doctor: Do you work from home? If so, do you have a set up that promotes good posture?
  • Patient: Yes, I do work from home. I do not have the greatest set-up, but it is not bad. I try to alternate between the bed, couch, and chair that way my body is healthy. But I don’t know why my back hurts if I don’t feel pain when I’m working, and I am not in the same position all day.

This story is surely happening to a lot of people who started working from home these days. For this, in this new blog, we want to talk about the correlation between back pain and the lack of movement. Not only from working, but also from staying on the sofa watching TV in what seems like a comfortable position. A sedentary life can have serious consequences for your health in the future.

Bad postures that cause back pain

If a person who has no spinal injury or spinal deformity has back pain, they are likely to discover that their issues are the result of poor posture or minimal movement. When our bodies adjust to a posture that might feel comfortable but causes stress in our bodies, it can result in headaches, tiredness, herniated discs, and misalignments, etc.

Here some things that might be affecting you:

  • Forward head
    This is the most common cause of pain. It involves positioning the head in front of the shoulder which causes tension and pain in the upper muscles of the back, shoulders, and neck. If the head is positioned in front of the shoulders instead of being aligned with it, the spine is strained and the neck muscles start to become weaker due to the tension.
  • High chair, low table
    Using a chair that is higher than the desk, or having a table that is lower than the chair arms, forces the back and neck to arch. For this reason, if you do not have an adequate chair and table set-up, the lower area of your back and shoulders start to hurt. This is a problem easy to solve because all you have to do is strike a balance between the table and the height of the chair. When adjusted correctly, the table or desk should be set at the forearms’ height.
  • Not fully supporting your back
    Your body must be fully supported by the chair when sitting down. It seems very simple, but as the day goes by, you start to slunch, and when the back is not properly supported, pain will creep in. For this, it is very important to sit at the end of the chair, maintain the back resting completely on the backrest, position the feet flat on the ground, and keep tights parallel to the floor.

Avoid sedentary life in quarantine with these two tips

Even when official policies are in place and many businesses are closed, you must not stop exercising and taking care of your body. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to back and neck pain during the COVID-19 quarantine, but there are a few things you can do to ensure that your body is healthy during this pandemic.

  1. Avoid long hours of continuous work. Move from time to time to avoid back pain. For example, when you need to make a phone call, walk around the house for a few minutes. When you take a bathroom break, stretch your arms and legs. You should also change your posture every half hour so that your body shifts muscle tension.
  2. Exercise or set a daily exercise routine for yourself. It’s important to think about more than just your work routine. When your work activities are over, think about stimulating your muscles with a routine that promotes stretching of the full body, especially the arms, legs, neck, and back. This type of routine may also help with your emotional health, especially if you can stick to it at least 3 days a week.

We are lucky to live in a world full of technological advances. Even when gyms are closed, there are many platforms that can advise you on exercises you can do without any special equipment from the comfort of your home. YouTube alone offers an array of fitness resources where you can follow videos with very simple exercises and back stretches. Make sure to check with your doctor before attempting any new routine, especially if it is more intense than what you are used to.

Prevent back pain with 3 easy stretches

Socialization is very important for human beings. In these moments of quarantine, lack of socialization lowers people’s moods and can affect work performance. In a normal office setting, breaks are normal and you may not realize it, but the pauses you may take to get up for coffee, then greet a coworker on the way, can positively affect your posture and your mood!

To help you avoid back pain, Med Plus Centers brings you three exercises that can help you take an active break every day to perform a series of stretches that will allow your body to relieve tension caused by poor posture or stress at work.

  • Stretch 1: Knees to chest stretch
    This stretch relaxes the muscles located in the dorsal area of the back and helps the relocation of small vertebral displacements. It is recommended to perform 10 sets of 5 with 10 seconds of rest in between.

    How to stretch:

    • Sitting on the floor with your legs bent towards your chest and hugging your legs with both hands.
    • Your back should be relaxed, swing your body back slowly.
    • Movement begins in the pelvic area and ends at the level of the scapulae.
    • You should feel the pressure on the lower lumbar, dorsal, and cervical muscles increase as you roll over your spine.
  • Stretch 2: Cat Pose.
    This stretch combines pelvic mobility and the entire spine, with stretching of the muscles of the dorsal area of the back and the repositioning of small vertebral displacements. It is recommended to perform 10 sets of 5 with 10 seconds of rest in between.

    How to stretch:

    • Kneel down on a mat in an all-fours position.
    • Your knees should be under your hips, and your hands should be under your shoulders.
    • Keep your head facing the ground.
    • Pull on your abs, flex your spine, and let your head drop as you inhale.
    • Hold 2-3 seconds. Relax your abs, extend your entire back, and look forward as you exhale.
    • Repeat slowly for a complete set of 10.
  • Stretch 3: Child’s pose.
    This stretch is highly popular among people who do yoga. This stretch helps to relieve tension from the lower back muscles. You must stay in this position for a minimum of 20 seconds, repeating the stretch 2-3 times, with 10 seconds of rest in between.

    How to stretch:

    • Start kneeling on the floor, put your feet together, and sit on your heels.
    • Lay hands and forehead on the floor and slowly stretch your arms above your head.
    • If this stretch is uncomfortable or too strong at first, put a cushion between your legs and your abdomen. This will make the stretch smoother and less painful for your back.

Back care at Med Plus Centers

Whether you feel a mild or severe pain, getting a quick and accurate diagnosis is crucial to avoid worsening the condition. At Med Plus Centers, we can help you improve your back’s health so that you are able to heal and relieve pain while also restoring your body’s stability.