Owing to the pandemic, most people have been forced to work from home.
Work from home has led to a lot of people complaining about eye problems, headaches, but most importantly, pain in the shoulders. This can range from a mild ache to a severe pain caused by repetitive strain on the tendons and ligaments around the shoulder joint.
A shoulder injury may be caused due to strenuous movements such as lifting heavy objects, but it is also common to experience shoulder pain while performing small movements repeatedly, such as using a mouse or typing on a keyboard. Chronic pain and stiffness in the shoulder are symptoms of arthritis or a condition called frozen shoulder. Improper sitting posture and long-term computer use triggers shoulder pain.
The symptoms often include:
- Aches, pain, cramps and tenderness
- Tingling or numbness
How can you prevent shoulder pain while working from home?
1. Sit in a correct posture
How you sit while working makes a huge difference. When you are at home the work environment is not appropriate. It is ideal to use props such as stacks of books to raise your monitor to your eye level, and position everything you need in the right manner. If you have access, it is best to work from a chair positioned at a desk or table. Sit upright and ensure that your feet are placed firmly flat on the ground.
2. Use a firm chair
A soft chair is not ideal for you. You must sit on a firm chair while working and you may use a lumbar support cushion or grab a small pillow to alleviate back pain.
3. Relax your shoulders
Make sure that your elbows are close to your body and most importantly, feel comfortable. A relaxed position will reduce stress and aches.
4. Take frequent breaks and move around
Even with the best posture, you can get aches and pains from sitting in one position for too long. Set a timer and get up, stretch and walk around.
You may also utilize this time to eat something or drink and stay hydrated. It helps you focus.
You can bend over and touch your toes, do some jumping jacks, roll your shoulders slowly and ensure better blood circulation.
These activities are not only for your body, they help the mind too, and will allow you to have better concentration. You can meditate before you start work.
Some helpful shoulder and neck exercises are,
- The side stretch, where you raise the right arm overhead and bend your upper body towards the left; and repeat the same for your right arm. The muscles gently stretch and help relax the neck and shoulder to avoid neck pain.
- Cross-body shoulder stretch can be done by grabbing one arm above the elbow with the opposite hand, and pulling it across the body towards the chest. Hold the position and repeat it on the other side.
- Overhead shoulder stretch is great for preventing or dealing with shoulder pain. Sit straight and raise one arm overhead, bend the elbow, and place the hand behind the neck. Relax and repeat with the opposite arm.
- Hands clasped palm press helps relax your shoulders.These exercises can be done regularly for significant relief from neck pain, and tension in the shoulders.
6. Limit the time you work on your bed
Sitting on your bed is not the best option when you are working from home. The screen is too low for viewing which means you will have to hunch over.
If you have no other choice, put a pillow behind your back to rest against the headboard and put your laptop on a raised platform, low foldable table so that you can type comfortably without straining your neck.
Neck pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain are common problems among people who spend long hours sitting and working at home. The absence of ergonomically set-up workstations can really take a toll on your shoulders. These few tips should help ease the pain. Prolonged sitting in an unfamiliar work set up, less walking leads to stress and discomfort. Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy fix to these problems, provided you’re tuned in to what’s happening to your body.