With millions of people beginning to emerge from spending months in lockdown and consequently spending longer periods of time sitting and working from home, it’s not uncommon to be feeling some neck and back pain. In fact, posture may have been one of the most overlooked aspects of self-care while staying at home. Whether it’s sitting more often with less access to exercise, or all the time spent with our necks down to stare at a phone or laptop, the consequences have long term repercussions.
Bad Posture Is More Than Aesthetics
Bad posture can have serious negative effects on your overall health. Studies have shown a link between bad posture and back pain, body pain, poor digestion, compromised cardiovascular health, impaired circulation, balance, and even mood health. Additional research has also shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time has serious health consequences such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar leading to serious health issues. Studies now compare the danger of sitting for too long to the dangers of smoking. While health experts advise people to take the steps at work, park the car at a distance, and even bicycle to work, three months ago COVID-19 erased any potential progress those tips offered.
“And as we continue to hunker down at home, signing on from our bedroom-turned-office, it may be easy to slouch over our laptops — or even worse, work from bed. However, it’s important to be mindful of our posture and mobility,” advises Dr. Alexandra Duma, DC, DACBSP, a New York City chiropractor.
For the past several months, many of us have been forced to work from home to prevent contracting and spreading this virus. Home workers have endured working at makeshift offices like kitchen tables, living room sofas, and that shoddy old home office chair. Sitting improperly at kitchen tables, hunching over laptops on our laps, and slouching in worn out old desk chairs these last few months has contributed to bad posture.
“The spine isn’t actually straight. There are three important spinal curves – one in your neck, one in your upper-to-mid-back, and one in your lower back. Poor posture may distort these curves.” explains Dr. Jason Helfrich of 100% Chiropractic.
Looking Down at Devices is a Common Culprit
Many of our daily behaviors contribute to distorting these curves such as the head jutting forward when you are sitting incorrectly. This incorrect position straightens the curve, putting excessive pressure on the muscles and nerves which can lead to neck and back pain. It’s no surprise that prolonged sitting while working at home would lead to aches and pains. You can compound the negative effects of sitting when it’s looking down at a phone or laptop– a phenomenon becoming known as “text neck”. Not only can it cause stiffness, pain and disrupt your posture, it can even lead to long term deformities in your neck.
While they may seem minor at first, these signals from your body should not be ignored. “Over time, poor posture can lead to a loss of function and even deformity in the spine,” says Dr. Jason. He offers these tips to fight poor quarantine posture:
It is key to be aware and correct bad posture habits before they can become an issue. Avoid sitting at a desk all day. Alternate by sitting on an exercise ball chair instead of staying in a desk chair all day. Elevated or standing desks help maintain good posture. Adjust the sight line by looking at your phone from above your chest as opposed to below your chest. Use a posture pillow when driving your car to keep your lower spinal curve in check.
Dr. Jason emphasized staying mindful of your posture throughout the day. When you catch yourself slumping, pull your shoulders back and straighten your spine. This helps the bones of your spine support the weight of your head as opposed to straining the stabilizing muscles in the neck. You’ll recognize this issue if your shoulders feel strained. Your body is always speaking to you through messages of pain and strain. If you are sitting for too long, stand up to stretch or take a walk. Sit at the edge of your chair and hang your head back to offset the strain of looking down for hours. This helps restore the important cervical curve.
Get it Checked:
Chronic pain should never be left unchecked. A chiropractor specializes in restoring healthy curves lost due to poor posture, injuries, and daily behaviors that compromise them. Negative effects of poor posture can be remedied and sometimes reversed by specific adjustments performed only through a chiropractor. So if you’ve taken the steps to be proactive about straightening up, but still aren’t getting relief from self-care and exercise, it’s a good idea to consult a professional.