With Delta, Working from Home Could Persist…
by Lori-Ann Tracy, MD, board certified in emergency medicine, which she has practiced for 13 years. Dr. Tracy uses a multi-modal approach, drawing from the most effective, proven treatments from conventional, functional, and natural medicine disciplines.
Was it fun at first to work from your comfy bed or kitchen-adjacent table? Many of our patients enjoyed the flexibility of several at-home workspaces…until they came in with aches and pains.
Your desk at work may be same-old-same-old, but most likely the chair and desk are ergonomically designed. Companies don’t want employees getting pains that could result in time off or lawsuits.
Mostly due to makeshift workspaces, our patients at Pacific Pearl La Jolla are coming in with lower back and neck pain, carpal tunnel symptoms, and discomfort due to incorrect posture.
Now, with the Delta variant raising concerns among employers and employees, plans to return to the office may be put on hold…again. Further, many companies now are allowing a hybrid model of work: 3 days in the office and 2 days at home.
Whether you are working from home or going back to the office, take this time to incorporate some healthy practices which will help your posture when you’re working from home. Free of aches, you can be more mindful and productive throughout your workday.
Set up your home workstation to be as ergonomically beneficial as possible:
- Use a table or desk with a supportive chair. If the chair doesn’t have enough back support, use a rolled-up towel or small pillow behind your lower back.
- Optimize the position of your computer monitor to support your neck. The position of your computer monitor plays a big role in how your neck feels. Make sure your screen is at a comfortable viewing height – it should be directly at eye level. Use books or boxes to elevate the screen if needed or raise your chair. You should also view iPads, phones and papers with a straight neck rather than looking up or down at them.
- Rest your feet on a flat surface. Letting your feet hang in the air while you are sitting puts pressure on your thighs and hampers blood flow to your lower legs – increasing your risk of deep vein thrombosis. It can also lead to lower back or hip pain. Resting your feet on a flat surface allows for good blood flow through the legs and support for your back and hips. If your chair is too high and your feet don’t reach the floor, put a pile of books or a footrest under your feet to allow for direct contact.
- Properly position your wrists, hands, and arms. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes a nerve in the wrist to become compressed, which can be very painful and even debilitating. While the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is often due to a combination of factors, activities that include overextension of the wrists – like typing – are often to blame. Properly positioning your wrists, hands and arms helps to avoid symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Keep your keyboard and mouse in front of you, close enough that your arm remains near the side of your body and your hand is level and straight. Take breaks from typing during the day and do a few hand and wrist stretches.
Incorporate Mindfulness and Movement
- Breathe – The breath is a powerful way to center yourself and help you to remain calm. Doing deep breathing exercises can help to shift you from a stressful sympathetic response into a parasympathetic state. As an example try 4-7-8 breathing. Perform a few intervals breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds. If these intervals are too long for you, you may shorten them. However, maintaining the outward breath longer than the inward breath is what helps to shift you into the parasympathetic state.
- Move – Get your steps in. Make it a point to get up every hour and take a brief walk or stretch. Stepping away from your work allows for improved focus and increased productivity. It can help you to return with a new perspective.
- Yoga – A few simple yoga stretches at your desk can help to realign your spine, improve energetic flow, ground, and center you.
– Cat-Cow – sit up tall with your feet firmly planted. Gently rest your hands on your knees. Breathing in (cow pose) roll your shoulders up toward your ears and onto your back allowing your chest to move forward creating a heart opening. Breathing out (cat pose) roll your shoulders forward pushing your upper back in the opposite direction breathing out that which is not serving you.
– Hand and Wrist Stretches – 1. Hold your hands out in front of you. Spread your fingers out wide and then gently close the fingers into a fist. 2. Interlace your fingers. Straight your arms and press your palms out in front of you. Then lift your arms up above your head with palms facing up. 3. Make gentle fists and roll your wrists in one direction and then the other.
– Twist – Sit up tall with your feet firmly planted. Inhaling lengthens your spine and engages your core muscles. Exhaling twist to one side. Allow the twist to initiate from your abdominal muscles. Grab the chair with your hands to enable a deeper twist. Inhale lengthen the spine. Exhale twist. Repeat for a few breaths and then switch to the other side.
– Pigeon Pose – Sit up tall with your feet firmly planted. Align your ankles beneath your knees. Lift your right knee and cross your right ankle on top of the left knee. Maintain the right ankle at a 90-degree angle with the foot in flexion, which protects the knee. Breath deeply and if desired gentle pressure may be placed on the knee to deepen the stretch. If this is not accessible to you, straighten the left leg and cross the right ankle lower down on the leg. Repeat on the other side.
– Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana) – Stand up behind your chair. Stand up tall. Plant your feet firmly into the ground. Start with your arms resting by your side. Breathe in extending the arms out to the sides and up to meet overhead. Breathe out slowly allowing the arms to release back down to your sides. Repeat for a few breath cycles.
Whether you remain working at home or are returning to the office, utilizing these tips will help you to avoid unnecessary strain, improve your posture, remain mindful, and increase your productivity.
If you are interested in either an appointment with a provider at Pacific Pearl La Jolla or Pacific Pearl La Jolla VIP membership, please don’t hesitate to call 858-459-6919. Our reception team will get you quickly to the right providers. You can also use these buttons to reach out online.