April 8, 2021
After spraining my ankle in August, I started going to see Matthew Kraft, PT, DPT at Baystate Physical Therapy on a weekly basis to rehab my newly sprained ankle as well as strengthen my other previously broken ankle. He worked wonders and got me up and running (literally) – and also provided such great tips for addressing other bodily pains I was experiencing.
As part of our company wellness program, we recently invited Matt to host a virtual workshop about ergonomic tips for a healthy, pain-free spine and body. He gave us loads of advice and recommendations for remedying neck and back pain, strengthening our cores, and even picking out a new mattress. Matt also shared the following best practices for home office setups as well as easy stretches to keep things limber:
As the days begin to get longer and we start to thaw out after the long winter freeze, many of us are realizing that we have been working from home for over a year now. Adjusting to a new work/life balance brings with it a whole slew of challenges, one of which is adapting physically to a new work station. Working from home can be a literal pain in the neck, back, indeed the entire spine. If you find that you’re experiencing spine pain, here are a few tips to get you feeling better from head to tailbone.
Ergonomics play a huge role in the overall health of your spine. When you’re sitting for a prolonged period of time, body position matters a lot. If you don’t have access to a desk, there are some simple solutions to set up your work station to avoid unnecessary stress on your neck and back. Start by making sure you have a good seat. By this I mean a chair that allows you to sit with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. If your knees are scrunched up to your torso, find some extra cushions to sit on; if your feet are dangling in the air, find another seat. When your legs aren’t properly supported, your spine is working overtime to support them. Next, have your computer screen at a height that does not force you to hunch forward. If your laptop is set up on the dining room table, it likely is too low. This causes your mid and upper back to round forward and your neck to crane, putting significant pressure on the spine, which can lead to back pain and headaches. If this is the case, stack some books under your computer so that you can see your screen without sacrificing your posture.
For those of you who have a good home office set-up, you might still be experiencing back/neck pain from work. Often it’s easy to get engrossed in a task and spend hours on end staring at the computer screen. Even with good posture, prolonged positional holding can lead to aches and pains. The solution to this problem is simple: get up and move. To remind yourself to do this, try setting a recurring timer on your phone for every one to two hours, then make a point of getting up out of your chair and standing up. If you’re feeling really sore, or just ambitious, you can add in some simple stretching to this routine.
Hamstring stretch: begin by propping up your heel on a chair or step. Next, gently lean forward until a stretch is felt behind the thigh. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat this three times on each leg.
Quad stretch: stand next to a chair or a counter for balance. Pull one leg behind you so that a stretch is felt down the front of the leg. Be sure that your thighs are parallel to each other. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat this three times on each leg.
Upper trap stretch: start by standing or sitting up tall so that your neck is in line with your upper back. While looking forward, lean your head to one side until a gentle stretch is felt in the opposite side of the neck. If you want, you can add a little over pressure with the arm on the side to which you are bending. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat this three times on each side.
If you want to learn more ergonomic tips for a healthy, happy musculoskeletal system, or have any bodily pains that need help, shoot Matt an email or contact Baystate Physical Therapy and get ready to experience some PT magic.