Many Americans are now adjusting to a narrowed lifestyle as the country strives to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s not an easy adjustment, even for people who remain employed but now have to balance their home life with expectations for work. It is dramatic change for those who must leave the restaurant or hotel that employed them as well as the small business owners, like barbers and retail.
The Body Always Knows
In our pre-pandemic days additional tasks, errands, and personal goals had to be balanced within the normal work schedule. Today most people have 24 hours to plan, arrange and execute on their own. It may be more complex because the “kids” are now at home altering self-time and more anxiety provoking because of the impact on income for an unknown amount of time.
Physical therapists (PT) are here to help. Of all health professionals, their career is focused on the body’s muscular-skeletal system. This is where many of us find ourselves seeking relief. Based on a recent interview, we offer three tips from Erica Walker, PT, DPT.
Tip 1: Use the “Stay Home” Time to Build Good Habits
PT’s tell us our posture is the key to most of the problems that plague us. Here are 3 questions you can use to check your posture.
- If you are sitting, do you begin to feel strain in your low back. Does it feel stiff?
- Are you experiencing headaches during the day several times a week?
- Do you notice yourself slouching? [or does someone mention it to you?]
Research on the ergonomics of how we work shows that posture and how we use the computer is key factor in our discomfort. In one study 58 percent of participants reported eyestrain, 45 percent shoulder pain and 43 percent back pain. Legs, wrists and neck were also source of pain.
Tip 2: Ergonomic Savvy You
Use the ergonomic guide and review this video to evaluate the PT questions with your personal situation. The guide from the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus provides you with pictures you can print and post on your refrigerator. An additional graphic from Mayo reinforces the emphasis PTs place on posture.
Compare your self-assessment to the ergonomic guides to help you work on your best posture.
Tip 3: Apply Best Posture and Take Breaks
Research recommends taking a short break from the computer screen every 15-20 minutes. This is not easy to do when engaged in a big work project or streaming a movie, however they can make a big difference to your day. Short breaks of 1-2 minutes allow you to focus on one of these three quick exercises:
This video will also help you find a good posture and avoid the pain while you’re working in a new surrounding or stuck at home!