Back Comfort at Home
As stay-at-home restrictions are loosened, chiropractic patients are getting long-delayed treatments for pain in their backs, necks, and limbs. But for the many who are still observing some degree of physical distancing, incurring musculoskeletal problems at home remains a significant risk. While it is good for us to avoid holding the same posture for too long, some positions put the structures of our joints and connective tissues under greater stress than others. Therefore, we wanted to share some general principles for reducing pain at home and aiding recovery.
Lots of people didn’t have a workspace at home designed for long-term use prior to the pandemic. In the first few weeks, many people resorted to setting up laptops on kitchen tables or whatever flat surface they could find. The problem with this is that a monitor needs to be at eye-level so that the user doesn’t have to bend their neck down to use it. Many people also hunch forward to reach their computers, rest their wrists on surfaces that could compress their carpal tunnels, or have to stretch too far to use laptop keyboards. Ideally, people should be able to type with their feet flat on the floor, their backs upright, and their arms extending forward with their elbows at their sides. Unfortunately, laptops do not usually allow for us to keep our necks and upper limbs that far apart, which is why it may be necessary to use a wireless keyboard.
We want to sit far enough back in our chairs so that our lower backs are supported. Some chairs may have to be adjusted so the user can do this while still sitting upright. There should be some space between the backs of our knees and the chair seat, and the seat should be sufficiently padded.
When at Rest
Without much else to do, many people used the stay-at-home orders as an opportunity to catch up on TV and movies. But if you keep the same position for too long on a couch or bed, it will quickly stop being comfortable. Chiropractors recommend that people not lie on their fronts, as this leaves the lumbar spine unsupported and forces the head up and backward. Instead, you might try lying on your side, keeping a pillow between your legs so your knees won’t rub together and your hip muscles won’t have to stretch as far. Remember to stretch about every thirty minutes, and try to get up and move around frequently.
Which particular stretches a person can do will depend on their health history and whether they currently have any sprains or dislocations. But generally, aerobics that don’t subject the body to impacts are good for getting over back pain, and people should always warm up by doing dynamic stretches before a workout. Yoga poses are popular ways of stretching, as are arm and leg raises from a prone position, cat curls, bird dogging, lunges, and lying on the back while pulling the knees toward the body. Heat, delivered through pads or a hot shower, can help to loosen muscles and increase blood flow, and you may be able to massage a tight area with a tennis ball.
Don’t forget that chiropractic is a holistic practice. While practicing safe distancing, try to exercise outdoors and make sure you get direct exposure to sunlight everyday. Keep your sleep and meal schedules as regular as possible, and schedule appointments with your chiropractor in advance to ensure you can be accommodated in reduced-capacity waiting rooms.