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Home Office Woes Taking a Toll on Our Backs

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Back pain has become a frequent complaint these days with folks trying to create ad-hoc office space in their homes due to COVID-19. And with the new Delta variant, a lot of people are still working from home, with no end in sight.

Most people aren’t equipped with ergonomic office chairs and desks at home. Instead, they’re sitting on the couch, or at the kitchen table, or even lounging in bed with pillows stacked behind them.

These conditions are less than ideal and bound to take a toll on our bodies, especially our backs.

As a Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist (LMBT) working in the wellness industry for over twenty years, I’ve seen some knotted up backs in my day. But what I’ve seen since the pandemic began (what I’ve labeled the “pandemic slouch”), is a combination of physical tension, emotional armor, and energetic distress. Yes, we can feel it!

Here’s what I’m seeing:

  • Elevated, compressed shoulder blades from hunching over the keyboard.

  • Bunched-up connective tissue around the sacrum (where the low back meets the hips) from awkward sitting postures.

  • Overstretched neck muscles from leaning forward to look at our various screens.

  • Tight jaw muscles from teeth grinding and clenching

  • Holding patterns of “armored” tissue layers from emotional suppression

  • Dense energetic blocks in the chakras

Remember the game, Twister? That’s what it feels like when I place my hands on my clients’ backs these days--as if they’ve just contorted themselves into all kinds of odd positions and postures.

Having an ergonomic workspace is tantamount to keeping the spine supple so it can support your back and the rest of your body properly.

Here are 3 ways to combat those home office woes:

Create a More Ergonomic Workspace

Even if you don’t have an office chair and desk, you can create a more “ergonomic” workspace by changing up a few things:

  • Place a small shelf (or even a large book) under your computer or laptop to bring it to eye level (remember: ears over your shoulders, back straight, elbow relaxed at your sides).

  • Use some kind of lumbar support while sitting—a small pillow or even a rolled-up towel or blanket works well.

  • Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.

  • Declutter your work environment. Having a disorganized, cluttered environment actually affects your mind, making it harder to focus. Set some time aside to tidy up (especially your workspace), or do it piecemeal throughout the day. Take a short break to wash the dishes or do a load of laundry while you’re eating your lunch.

Move It!

Get up, stretch, and walk around at least every hour, if possible, or even take a quick yoga break. Three yoga poses that are particularly good for your back are:

  • Cat-Cow: Get down on all fours making sure your wrists are underneath your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Inhale as you drop your belly (cow) towards the floor. Lift your chin and chest towards the ceiling and breathe. Then, exhale and draw your belly in while arching your back (cat) towards the ceiling. Repeat 5x.

  • Downward Dog: Get down on all fours making sure your hands are shoulder length apart and your knees are slightly behind your hips. Press your hands into the mat, gently tuck your toes, lift your knees and straighten your legs as much as you can. After a few deep breaths, bring your knees back down to the floor. Repeat 5x.

  • Child’s Pose: Kneel on the floor, sitting on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Extend your arms alongside your torso, palms facing down. Relax your shoulders toward the floor and breathe. Rest in this pose for as long as you need.

Schedule a 30-Minute Massage

It goes without saying that massage therapy is good for your back—and the rest of your body. Even a 30-minute session focussed just on your back can do wonders.

  • Breaking Up Adhesions: We use several techniques to break up adhesions that occur in the areas mentioned above. In addition to losing up the area of tension, circulation is improved, and flexibility is increased.

  • Stimulating Acupressure Points on the Back: Not only does it feel great to have the points along the spine pressed, but manipulation of these points also benefits the rest of the body, including your internal organs—more specifically, your bladder and kidneys.

  • Mental and Emotional Well-Being: The back, particularly the lower back, is where many people store stressful emotions, like anger and frustration. Releasing this area can “lighten the load” so to speak, making you feel less encumbered and more open, mentally and emotionally.

Once you’ve created a more ergonomic workspace, other goals for wellbeing will more easily fall into place. Learning to prioritize You is the first step.

Disclaimer: The content in this article should not be substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis of medical conditions, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any treatment plan. Reliance on information in this article or any linked websites is solely at your own risk.

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