Humanity, so diverse, yet deep down, as we peel our skin back, we are all the same. This global pandemic has put us all in the same boat. As a society our stress has risen to an all time high. Our emotional, chemical and physical wellbeing is challenged like never before, on a daily basis, changing with each moment. These challenges are becoming so evident in my Chiropractic practice. Chronic low back pain, headaches, elbow and wrist pain, as well as muscle fatigue, numbness, restless sleep and of course anxiety.
Initially, we thought this work from home (WFH) scenario would be for a couple of weeks. Now it may be for much longer than we ever imagined. So stop procrastinating and make these corrections and changes to your home now! Make it a calm, comfortable and a supportive space.
Let’s look at some strategies to help you make you home a better space to reduce all the chronic strain.
1. Get all the proper hardware
Proper Ergonomic devices are easy to find. Invest in an external keyboard, upright mouse, foot stool, adjustable monitor stand, ergonomic chair and maybe even a stand to sit desk. Invest the money in yourself, you won’t regret it.
2. Proper Ergonomic Set-up
We have all seen images of proper ergonomic desk set-up. Sure it looks straight forward and is easy to do. But is it really? Even if we do get our knees and elbows at 90 degrees, does our head alignment always sit right on top of your shoulders. Who really has the perfect chair? These images are probably more realistic.
Sitting at your desk or table
Sitting on the sofa
3. Analyze your Set-up
What I recommend is that you organize your space, the best you can with the resource you have. Then take a video of yourself in your space as you are working, so that you can watch as your posture changes throughout the work day. This will also give you an idea of how your body slouches and how your position gets compromised as your muscles get tired. Analyze your set-up and compare it to the “Perfect” Ergonomic set-up.
4. Light and Fresh Air
Finding the correct light to work in will help increase productivity. Try to incorporate as much natural light as possible to increase your workflow. Find the biggest window in your house, open it and put your desk right in front of it and switch to writing instead of typing. This will change your position and give some of your postural muscles a break.
5. Self Care Therapies
“Self Care” could mean many different things for each of us. Here are my suggestions and what I have been exploring over the last year.
- Massage Therapy
- Fascial Stretch Therapy
- Resistance band exercises Or any safe exercise
- Journalling (only using the best Do Good Paper Co. journals)
- Meditation and Breathing techniques
- InfraRed Sauna
6. Chiropractic Care
Prolonged poor posture from a poor WFH set-up causes a shift in the alignment and position of our vertebrae. Muscles and ligament begin to get strained and stretched. This then causes pain and ultimately will speed up the process of Osteoarthritis. Chiropractors correct these misalignments by gently pushing the vertebrates into correct alignment. But, I do more than just “crack” the back. As a Chiropractor, I like to focus on the patient as a whole. I examine their lifestyle and all their activities to determine the root cause of their pain. I use a very holistic approach, helping them to change their ergonomics, teach them how to stretch and strengthen their muscles, recommend nutritional advice and sometimes just listen to what is going on in their life.
7. Do Simple Stretches
Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! Schedule these times in your day. Book yourself 5 minute breaks, to allow for breathing and stretching. Focus on your shoulders, wrists and low back. Backwards shoulder circles are a great way of relaxing and massaging your own upper back. Remember to keep your elbow straight when stretching your wrist and forearm. Prayer type stretch is great to help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for those of you who type and write a lot. I have lots of videos and images of how to stretch on my Instagram and Facebook, which you can check out.
8. Get Up and MOVE!
This is the bottom line. Our bodies are designed to move. Movement is critical, not just for our muscles and joints, but for the organ systems in our body like our Circulatory, Digestive and Immune system. Movement is essential for your health. All I am suggesting is to get up off your chair every 20 minutes and pick a different activity. Run up and down the stairs 5 times, do 30 seconds of jumping jacks or high knees, grab some resistance bands and lay on the floor and start stretching.
-- Written by Dr. Angela Picarelli
Dr. Angela Picarelli is a Chiropractor who has been serving her community for over 18 years. She graduated from the University of Toronto with honors in Biological Science. She then moved to California to receive her Doctorate degree in Chiropractic at the Southern California University of Health Sciences. She graduated in 2002, ranking fourth in her class. She now runs her own clinic, Markham Town Square Chiropractic Centre, where patients can be treated by various types of therapies.
Thanks for the practical tips – especially the pictures; really helpful to see!