Why your work habits might be hurting you more than you think
We’re going to assume a few things here. You were working hard, gunning for that promotion. You were firing up the midnight oil, cranking out report after report, and people were starting to take notice. You were crushing it! And then the calendar flipped, and March 2020 and its accompanying global pandemic smacked you and everybody you know in the face. Blindsided you, really. Well, we’re right there with you. In the global shuffle that ensued, with companies large and small taking a close look at their working parts, it was deemed that you, weary employee, were to work from home for a duration unknown.
At first everything was peachy! You could sleep in, sign in from the comfort of your own bed/couch/other piece of squishy furniture, and eat your lunch while still in your pajamas. The stress of having to get ready for the day at work, prepare all of your materials, food, and make yourself presentable vanished. The awkwardness of meetings, the tension of deadlines, the frustration of battling through traffic was magically lifted, and you breathed a sigh of relief. This was going to be okay! You were safe at home, after all, away from the dangers of a deadly virus.
But then… things started to change.
Perhaps you slept in a bit later, or it was harder to wake up. You were running behind on priority lists, or your priorities were in utter chaos. Your eating habits were wacky, and exercise was a lost cause. Demands from employers piled up, and your desk, chair, and system were becoming your bitter enemies. And then it started, a tiny trickle at first. PAIN! What began as a small throb, became a shooting pain, it affected your arm, or it ran down the back of your leg. Your head hurt, almost a question-mark like pain, criss-crossing around your ear, over your temple, crunching down with a vise-grip like pressure.
I hope you enjoyed our dramatic portrayal of the experience of some, during their WFH adventure. As satirical as this may have been, unfortunately, this has been extracted from some very real patient encounters. As we continue to embrace the ‘new normal’ we will continue to see things from newer perspectives, and face problems previously never considered. We should be selective and proactive in our ability to fix these things. Most of the following tips have been passed around the internet over and over since March, but we hope to make it slightly easier to digest, and package it neatly for you.
Sitting is the enemy for all WFHers out there, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Standing desks are currently not just in high demand, but actually pretty functional. However, standing all day in front of your computer is not the perfect remedy. In actuality, a combination of sitting and standing is useful to break mechanical fixation of the muscles and joints. In other words, prevent your muscles from getting tight by switching your position often. Aim for 30 mins of either sitting or standing, followed by 1 to 5 mins of rest in another position. If you’re having discomfort or pain, these breaks are perfect moments to get in a bit of stretching.
Posture is another highly/overused word over the past few months. No doubt your social media timeline has been flooded with ways to combat posture/sitting fatigue. While most of those tips/tricks/hacks will be useful, especially if you’ve been inconsistent at getting up every so often, aim to pick and choose a few that work the best for you. Not everybody is able to do every exercise, after all. We like our neck, low back, and ‘chair yoga’ routines, viewable on our Youtube channel, but as long as you’re moving you should benefit.
Exercise, hydrate, and nourish yourself well to stay ahead of any harmful pain mechanisms that arise from WFH. The benefits of exercise are so well understood, we’re genetically coded to improve with any amount of movement. Just getting in 30 min of walking everyday can dramatically change your body’s ability to fight off infection, muscle cramping, and aids in blood circulation. One of the more hidden benefits of exercise is that it helps your mind relax. The stressful nature of being cooped up at home is far more difficult to address than the mechanical problems it brings, so give your mind the break it needs by giving it time away from the screen. Hydration is a simple fix – aim for 3L of water per day – the extra bathroom breaks are a beneficial way for you to get away from your workstation.
Postural stress can result in accelerated degenerative changes in your spine, many of which are irreversible. Scarier still is that we are seeing advanced degenerative changes in younger and younger people, based on the high-technology lifestyle we currently enjoy. Re-educating your spine and joints with corrective movements is the Chiropractor’s modus operandi. To see how you too can benefit from good alignment and postural awareness, it’s as easy as one phone call. Taking care of your spine today can prevent a whole host of issues tomorrow, including disc herniations, nerve compression, sciatica, and other more serious complications.