Lockdown has introduced many new things to us all, not least Zoom! Classes, meetings, quizzes and just catch-ups via Zoom, teams, WhatsApp, or other social conferencing sites are taking place daily and will continue to do so, as many of us have made the transition to work-from-home, writes Carl Benton.
With this new way of working and interacting comes a new pain! ‘Tech neck’ issues have become more common in our clinic over these past few months. As the name implies, tech neck is a result of repeatedly hanging your head down and forward to look at your phone or computer screen. Chiropractor Kristine Hagen explains. “Every centimetre that your head hangs forward of centre adds extra load to the neck muscles. These muscles need to counteract this load by locking down, which in turn leads to tension headaches, migraines, jaw pain, and tightness in the mid and upper back.”
The transition from working from the office to working at home happened so fast for so many of us and although we may enjoy some of the freedoms it brings, it also brings about discomforts.
Often this is down to our posture as we blend home and office work, it sometimes means moving the laptop from dining room to kitchen then up to the bedroom! Completing our work on time, only to relax by checking in on social media, head down, scrolling.
Laptops have become our saviour. Easy to move around, portable, and compact but also too easy to balance on your lap whilst your mobile is tucked in against your shoulder and you are propped up in bed or sprawled across the sofa!
This simple routine will be familiar to those who attend stretch online. Practice with a cushion under your knees and possibly one between your calf and your buttocks. A great way of stretching shoulders and lower back.
We have had stories of people travelling into deserted offices so that they can get hold of their office chairs and bring them home as they feel the need to achieve a more formal workplace setup. Any changes you make to improve your home workplace will be worth the effort. We appreciate that not everyone is able to create a suitable working space at home, but if you can think through whatever your home office space is and make it more formal, your back and neck will thank you.
Sadly, for many, there appears to be no delineation between work and personal life, so it is all too easy to roll out of bed straight to sitting at your computer, working longer hours, and taking fewer breaks! So, it is even more important that you plan your working from home day so that you start and finish at your chosen time. As our screen/life balance has become skewed over the past year, make a point of switching off screens when you have finished your work so that your head can clear. Schedule regular breaks: set a timer and every twenty minutes get up from your seat, stretch out, walkabout for a minute or so, stretch again and then get back to your work.
Prior to establishing the Personal Best, Carl Benton taught Physical Education, coached teams, and ran fitness classes for 10 years in the New Forest. Carl was also a regular contributor to Ultra Fit magazine, writing over 40 articles in collaboration with Pete Cohen.