For a long time now, many people across the country have been working remotely. But the work-from-home schedule has not exactly been as comfortable as it was expected. Close to a year now, people have started to realise that the home space lacks a certain discipline that office cubicles and desks provide. As such, many have complained of neck and shoulder pain, along with pain in the back, because of bad posture.
Dr Raman Kant Aggarwal, director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopaedics, Medanta, tells indianexpress.com that a person working from home is more likely to either use the computer on a regular table or in a lounge chair, or on their bed. “Wherever that may be, chances are that they aren’t maintaining a healthy posture. This can manifest into orthopaedic problems such as neck pains and shoulder pains, among others. This can also lead to spinal dysfunction or even joint degeneration in the long run.”
But how can people prevent this?
The doctor recommends recreating work set-up at home. “Invest in a table and a chair, so that proper ergonomics is maintained.”
* Do not slouch: Sit straight with your shoulders braced up. You can rotate the shoulder from time-to-time as well.
* Do not keep the screen too close: The laptop or the PC should be at least 45 cm away.
Pro-tip: “Put the screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Neck strain can be directly related to the height of the laptop on the table. A simple rule is to keep the middle of the screen at eye level with 10 cm play up or down. It will ensure the neck remains neutral and does not bend awkwardly for a prolonged period. The easiest way is to stack thick books under the laptop or to buy a laptop stand,” the doctor suggests.
Some warning signs
Dr Aggarwal says neck pain generally begins with mild discomfort in the back of the neck and the big muscle originating from the neck and dorsal spine.
“The trapezius is a large paired surface muscle that extends longitudinally. When strained, it may sideline a person for a few weeks. A more serious muscle tear could limit the use of a shoulder or arm for months. Since it can be quite painful, one should seek expert advice before the pain moves to the arms/hands/fingers, along with tingling.
Neck pain generally begins with mild discomfort in the back of the neck and the big muscle originating from the neck and dorsal spine. (Photo: Pixabay)
“If one starts experiencing pain in the upper arm which gets aggravated by lying down on the same side, this often indicates inflamed tendons in the shoulder.”
Do not ignore the pain
It could lead to permanent damage in the form of weakness of muscles. This happens because of cervical disc prolapse which puts pressure on nerves and can even impact the spinal cord.
Tips to address persistent pain
One should seek immediate expert advice. But the following tips can also be helpful:
For neck pain
– Maintain good ergonomics
– Maintain proper vision
– Maintain an adequate level of vitamin D and calcium
– Basic exercises of the neck
For shoulder pain
– Brace up the shoulders and do not slouch
– Focus on the shoulder blades and strengthen the muscles around shoulder blades with basic exercises like shrugs (upwards) and shoulder blade squeezes (pulling the shoulder blades backwards)
– Push-ups against the wall are quite helpful for the maintenance of the muscles around the shoulder
* Ensure good bone health: This can be achieved through adequate vitamin D and calcium levels. Weight-bearing exercises like walking are also helpful.
* Proper ergonomics: Maintain proper posture.
* Engage in neck stretches and shoulder exercises.
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