Working From Home Can Be A Pain In The Neck
Casual Fridays, every day?! Sign us up! If you’re newer to the work-from-home phenomenon, it’s completely normal to enjoy some of the more casual perks. Who needs to get fully dressed, when chances are, the most someone will see of you all day is from the waist up on your Zoom video calls?
Kidding (and wardrobes) aside, it’s easy to blur the lines between the casual nature of your home life with your work life. And as tempting as it may be to enjoy your coffee in bed with your laptop as you check morning emails...it’s not the best way to start your workday. Nor is your coffee table the best desk setup for your full-time job.
In fact, indulging in some of these more casual work setups could do more than hamper potential productivity – they can also lead to neck pain and headaches if you’re not careful. And beware— the tension and pain start gradually but can lead to a chronic condition if your workplace structure (or lack thereof) isn’t set up to support both your mind and body.
So how can you make the most of your remote work opportunity without sacrificing your health? In this post, we offer you practical tips to make both your employer and your body happy.
The Importance of Posture and The Impact on Your Neck
Think about your body posture as you sit on a bed with a laptop for work. Is your core engaged, shoulders back and down, and head held high? Probably not. Likely, you’re sitting cross-legged and bending slightly forward to view your screen. While this may not seem like a big deal, if this kind of posture is the way you’re spending the majority of your workday, you’re actually adding undue stress and tension to your neck.
You see, as we hunch over into poor posture more frequently, our bodies begin to pick up different (unhealthy) compensation patterns. The muscles in the front of our chests tighten. Back muscles (including those in your shoulders and neck) strain as they’re pulled forward further than they should be. Your core muscles go relatively unused and become weaker. In other words, your body changes and strains to adapt to a posture that is less than ideal.
Over time, the strain on your upper back muscles from the consistent forward bend can begin to translate into nagging neck pain and tightness when left unaddressed. And if this neck tightness continues, the tension can lead to pounding headaches. Once neck pain and headaches have begun, until you address the core of the problem (poor posture), it’s not likely you’ll experience real relief.
Good Ergonomics In The Home Office
The good news is that posture-induced neck pain and headaches have a relatively easy fix: improve your posture. To do so, you may need to make adjustments to your ergonomic work environment. Perhaps when you started working from home, you enjoyed logging hours on your laptop from the comfort of your couch. However, this is not a good long-term solution. Seating choices like your bed, a couch, and lounge chairs are unstable, due to the cushioned, less structured surfaces. After all, they were designed with relaxation in mind – not a full day of work! As a result, your body may feel more tired or achy after an extended period.
As you settle in and find a new routine, search the internet and heed the advice from articles offering tips for creating a good workspace. For good health (and productivity), an ergonomic workstation is essential! Details like the lumbar support of your chair and the height of the screen really matter. And if you don’t like to sit for hours on end or find yourself slouching often, consider a standing desk workstation instead. The key is to design a workspace that encourages you to maintain good posture throughout a normal workday.
Keep in mind, it’s still up to you to cue your body to hold good posture all day long. A fancy chair won’t do that work for you. However, setting up your space in a way that’s more conducive to holding good posture will greatly increase your success over time.
Along with creating a healthy environment, be sure to also work in semi-frequent movement or stretch breaks to provide some much-needed relief throughout your day. Go ahead and take the occasional “water-cooler” intermission – a short spurt to grab a cup of water, a quick walk around the block – incorporating movement is healthy and therapeutic, and, may help you to maintain good posture (and focus!) when you return to your desk.
How Chiropractic Can Help Treat Neck Pain And Headaches
If poor posture or work tension is creating neck pain and headaches, rather than reach for over-the-counter medication, chiropractic adjustments relieve the root cause of your pain. Through the use of gentle spinal adjustments, your chiropractor can help to correct misalignments caused by everyday life in general, including the stress on your upper body and neck caused by a make-shift work environment. These adjustments can help provide relief by decreasing some of the pressure and inflammation that builds as a result of poor posture. With consistent chiropractic care, your body will feel— and function— better, as you’re not just masking the symptoms, but treating the cause.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.