Suffering From Back Pain While Working from Home? A Physical Therapist Offers His Advice
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of us working from home has grown exponentially and the number of us experiencing bad backs because of that has grown exponentially too. It's estimated that back trouble will affect 80% of us at some point, but what’s behind us is rarely the sole culprit. Straighten out these problem areas for instant relief.
“If your neck isn’t moving well, it imposes increased demands on the rest of your spine,” says Vikash Sharma, founder of Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. This overloads your back’s capacity and eventually leads to pain. To safely loosen up your neck, slowly rotate your head in a full circle to highlight the spots of tension, then perform three stretches of those areas every few hours.
Pain begets more pain. It stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and stress response, causing your breathing to go haywire. You stop inhaling deep into your belly, which creates more tension in your back. Sharma suggests placing one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Focus on slow, deep breaths through your nose, and look to check that the hand on your stomach is rising first.
“Your core gives you stability,” says Sharma, and this protects you from tweaks. To test it, assume the plank position. If you can’t hit 60 seconds, it’s likely that you have an imbalance. Sharma recommends working up to a minute of solid planking to build your core strength. Ease into it by dropping your knees to the ground, or resting your forearms on a bench.
Sitting causes your hip mobility to seize up, and your back ends up having to compensate. As these compensations become stronger, your hips lose even more function. Eventually, the pressure becomes too much and your back gives way – ouch. To avoid this, get up every 30 minutes and sink into a deep squat, holding onto a table or door frame for support.
The sensation of tight hamstrings often accompanies back pain. But it’s weakness, not tightness, that you feel. To address this, add slider hamstring curls to your legs day. Lie on your back, raise your hips and dig your heels into the sliders. Extend your legs and contract your hamstrings to drag your heels back. “Repeat three times and your back will ease up,” says Sharma.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.