This past year has come packaged with some considerable change, and our routines have been flipped on their heads. For those of us doing jobs that didn’t strictly require going into our usual workplace to function effectively, we found ourselves ditching the commute and transforming our homes into our work spaces. The benefits of this are obvious: no (or less) time and money wasted commuting, reclaiming time with our families, and having all the comforts of home accessible almost 24/7.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, as being effectively trapped indoors meant that getting up and about required even greater will power than usual, with our step counts dropping right down, and our overall activeness taking a hit. This was even true of those still travelling to work, as other activities like socialising ground to a halt and gave us even less options for variety in our lifestyles.
The result of this was, and perhaps still is, longer periods of time sat at the computer, with working-from-home feeling more like living-at-work for many of us. Depending on your “home office” arrangement, your work space may not have been conducive to good posture, and neck and shoulder pain might have crept in, causing aches and pains.
We’ve outlined the best methods of minimising and relieving any pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulder regions that can all be done at home.
1. How’s your sleep?
You’d be forgiven for not considering just how much of our lives we spend asleep, between a quarter to a third! What if the way in which you’re sleeping is not encouraging good posture, or is actively damaging it? This is an easy area of your life to make tweaks, and potentially reap some big rewards.
Firstly, the orientation of your body whilst asleep can make a big difference to the build up of pain. If you’re a front sleeper, chances are you have to twist your head to one side to be comfortable, a strained position the neck doesn’t want to be in and one that often leads to neck pain during the day. Sleeping on your side is better for the neck and spinal alignment, however with all your weight on one shoulder, there’s a good chance you suffer from shoulder and upper back aches and posture that’s not ideal. Unless you suffer from sleep apnea or severe snoring, sleeping on your back is the best option for good neck and shoulder health for most people, as your neck and head remain in a neutral position, and there’s an even weight distribution.
This method is all well and good, but if your pillow is too high or too flat, you’re unlikely to relieve neck tension. Trial various pillow heights to see what works best for you, or try an orthopedic memory foam pillow that’s designed to match the contours of the neck and shoulders.
2. Working at your desk
It’s common practice to be sitting at your desk working away for longer than you probably should, and whilst taking regular breaks is of course recommended, your time sitting down should be optimised for ultimate comfort.
If you’re sitting on a non-adjustable, hard dining chair, it’s time to level up. At the very least, get yourself an office chair with some cushioning and adjustable height and back supports so you can tailor it to your desk and computer monitor height, and so your shoulder and back are suitably supported.
Ensure your laptop screen or computer monitors are positioned so the top of the screen/s are in line with your natural eye level. This might require raising or lowering your chair height or adjusting your monitor positioning, but your upper body will thank you for it in the long run.
And who said sitting was even necessary? Many people like to alternate between a sitting and standing desk setup, either using one of those fancy motorised desks that change height, or more simply by stacking a smaller side table on your desk or dining table for variety during your day.
3. Over-the-counter pain relief
We encourage trying the previous tips, but we won’t pretend they’ll be instant pain-relieving fixes. For that, you’ll need pain relief medication, most of which is widely available. Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Aspirin are all extremely affordable yet effective tablets that will reduce bodily pain, whilst topical treatments such as Voltarol gel can provide immediate localised relief from discomfort.
For more information on preventing and treating pain, as well as advice on many other common health conditions, visit the online pharmacy Pharmica.