Covid -19 hasn’t been kind to our spines. In fact, a homeworking study conducted in 2020 found that 55% of participants developed backache during the UK’s first lockdown. But working from home doesn’t have to result in an achy back, as there are plenty of things you can do to keep your spine healthy, flexible and free from pain. Read on to discover our top tips.
Work with care
A certain amount of sitting is unavoidable, so learning how to sit properly while you work is a great way to prevent problems from developing. If you’re working at a computer screen, this means adjusting your seat so that your eyes line up with the top of the screen. It’s also important to avoid craning your neck forwards while you work.
The next step is to ensure that your wrists and forearms are straight. Ideally, there needs to be a gap of about 4-6 inches at the front of your desk, so that you can rest your wrists. Then, as you start to type, try to keep your arms bent in an L shape and your elbows against your sides. You can also avoid straining your back by placing your mouse, phone and other equipment within easy reach.
Finally, check that your thighs are at right angles to your body or sloping downward just a little. Your feet should be planted firmly on the floor or on a footrest.
Avoid poor posture
According to the NHS, there are a number of postural habits that lead to back ache.  Avoid these and you’ll be one step closer to a healthy spine.
The Donald Duck
Does your bottom have a habit of sticking out when you’re standing? Then this problematic posture could apply to you. It might also apply if you have an exaggerated inward curve in your lower back.
The flat back
This posture occurs when your pelvis is tucked in and your back is straight, rather than naturally curved. You might notice that you’re stooping forwards and you’ll find it tricky to stand for a long time.
The 1 leg lean
If you feel tired when you’re standing still, this posture might give you some relief. However, eventually it could cause muscular strain, as it places too much pressure on one side of your lower back and on your hip.
The hunched back
Too much time spent hunched over a laptop or phone could lead to a rounded upper back. This will make your upper back and shoulders feel sore and stiff.
The rounded shoulders
This is usually caused by a weak upper back, so if it applies to you, you’ll need to strengthen your core, your back muscles and your chest muscles.
Now that we’ve explained which postural habits to avoid, here are our top tips for developing an excellent posture that will keep your spine in good condition.
According to NHS experts, the first thing you should do is to imagine that there is a string attached to the top of your head that is pulling upwards. This will help you to keep your body in alignment with a naturally curved spine, shoulders that are parallel to your hips and a nice straight neck.
You can also improve your posture by pulling your abdomen in, balancing your weight evenly between both of your feet and keeping your knees straight but relaxed. Try not to lean backwards or forwards and check that there is just a small hollow in your lower back. For more information and posture related exercises, check out this NHS website.
Being glued to your office chair for hours isn’t good for your back or your general wellbeing. So, if you’re not doing any physical exercise, now’s the perfect time to find an activity you enjoy.
If you don’t fancy joining your local gym, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of alternative options. For example, if you have access to a local swimming pool, you could try swimming on your back, as this will strengthen your latissimus dorsi muscle and build up the key muscles that support your spine.
Yoga is also an excellent option, particularly if you’re keen to reduce existing back pain. Practice it regularly and you’ll become more flexible and much more aware of your posture throughout the day. If you don’t have the time or money to get to a class, why not try the free Yoga With Adrienne sessions available on YouTube?
The stresses of everyday life often result in muscle tension, which can lead to a stiff, painful back. But if you can find a few activities that help you to unwind, you’ll prevent this from becoming a serious problem. So, whether you love walking through quiet woodland, baking bread or testing out spa treatments, try to indulge in relaxing activities on a regular basis.
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