Keeping Your Back Happy During Quarantine

Welcome to the world of adapting with the times!  Let’s be honest… it feels like we’ve been flipped upside down, turned around, and then told to walk straight and not touch anything or anyone.  It hasn’t been easy.  And that includes the physical changes we’re enduring!  Trying to keep your body “happy” during this time can be very challenging.

Kudos to those of you that have viewed Virginia’s stay-at-home orders as an opportunity to focus on your health!  Many patients have been increasing their activity points through yard work, walks in the neighborhood, and trying new exercise routines through various internet resources.

On the other hand, we have patients that have been working longer hours, sitting in front of the computer, munching on unnecessary snacks, and then binge-watching Netflix.  There has to be a happy medium!

How can I set up my at-home workstation to prevent my back from hurting?

Not everyone has their floor plans designed to accommodate a home-office.  We’ve heard patients describe their set up from lounging on the couch to sitting at kitchen counter on a bar stool- neither of which are good for the back!  When working from home, it’s very important to remember to get up every 30-60 minutes to loosen up the body and give your back a break.  Below are the American Chiropractic Association’s recommendations for an ergonomic work-station.  Can you change your workstation to lessen the strain on your back??

  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Why do I hurt more?? I’ve never been more active in my life!

Adding in activity is good for the mind, body, and spirit… however, the body doesn’t always know how to handle it!

Gardening- Thankfully, the pandemic hit Virginia Beach in the early spring time providing ample opportunity for outdoor activities.  Just a couple weeks ago, USA Today posted an article about the increase in gardening throughout the US.  Gardening is an excellent outdoor activity!  But it comes with sore muscles and achy backs if you’re not accustomed to the work.

TIPS

  1. Walk around the yard and warm up prior to beginning specific gardening activities.  Simply walking around helps increase blood flow to the muscles, preparing them for more strenuous activity.  Try alternating between short, quick steps and long lunge-like steps to get the heart pumping and add a little stretch.
  2. Squat to reach the ground.  Avoid excessive straight-legged bending at the waist when performing yard work.  This puts significant stress on the discs between your vertebrae and strains the muscles in the back.  Although a stretch is felt in the hamstrings and back, prolonged forward bending makes those muscles work harder.  And the pain is felt later, once your body has a chance to relax again!
  3. Alternate hands when pulling weeds.  We often rely on our dominant hand to do most of the work.  However, this can cause significant body imbalance from right to left.  Work both sides of the body to distribute the demands!

Cooking- With the closure of restaurants due to COVID-19, Americans are cooking more than ever before.  This means more time standing in the kitchen and looking down while preparing meals.  Hopefully healthier choices are being made!  But that doesn’t make for any less physical stress on the body from doing more in the kitchen!

TIPS

  1. Walk around the kitchen. Just like walking around the yard, the movement helps warm up the body.  You can gather ingredients and utensils needed for meal prep.  It also provides an opportunity to evaluate your kitchen set up for easier use!
  2. Open a cabinet door to rest a foot.  This is especially helpful when washing dishes.  Resting a foot on the cabinet prevents you from locking your knees and makes it easier to squat down when necessary.  Alternating which foot is resting in the cabinet also helps change up how your weight is distributed, often relieving back pain.

Exercising- Now that working from home is encouraged, and in some cases mandated, people have more time available for exercising.  An incredibly positive change for many!  But we’re also exercising from home which leads to more injuries when supervision is not available.

TIPS

  1. Slow and steady is the best method if you’re new to introducing exercise… and this includes people that were avid athletes in their younger years, but haven’t had the opportunity to maintain an athletic physique since the glory days of old.  There’s no shame in going back to the basics!
  2. Remember to stretch.  For a lot of people, exercise means sweating and burning calories.  Unfortunately, stretching is often neglected with that mentality.  Tight muscles are often a source of ache and generalized discomfort.  It is also essential for preventing injuries!
  3. Discuss your exercise routine with our chiropractors. There’s no better qualified physician than chiropractors when it comes to understanding the mechanics of the body.  Let us help you create the best routine for your body!

Here are 2 exercises and 2 stretches to help you handle the changes in activity!