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Has Working From Home Become a Pain in the Neck, Back and Hips?

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Before March of 2020, we may have gotten strange looks from colleagues if we bent over in a downward dog position in the middle of our office, in work casual attire. But now, at home in our athleisure, there is no excuse for not moving, stretching or doing simple exercises throughout the day. These kinds of activities can keep working from home from literally becoming a pain in the neck, back and hips.

I’ve had an ergonomic home office with a standing desk and this brilliant chair for years, but during quarantine, I’ve let my husband take over my office while I work downstairs and supervise our kids. When lockdown began, I took up residence over our kitchen counter, at the dining room table and sometimes on the couch in our family room, and quickly developed a nagging pain in my hip. This has sidelined me from running and riding my bike outdoors or doing Peloton as frequently as I’d like. I realized that I was hunching over way too much (I rarely hunch at my adjustable standing desk) and my guess is that you may be too if you are working from bed, the couch or other haphazard work stations.

A recent study by the Institute for Employment that surveyed 500 people in the first few weeks of lockdown revealed that over half of the participants reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58%), shoulder (56%) and back (55%). The double-edged sword to this, which I’m experiencing now, is that these pains keep us from doing things the physical activities that nourish our mental and physical health. It’s been tough for me to rest as I heal, but as with this pandemic, I remind myself to be patient and trust the process — again, and again, and again.

Get strategic about your daily exercises

The human head makes up about 8 percent of our body weight and when we hunch down to look at our screens, which includes the Zoom Happy Hours and Netflix binges, we are putting a lot of pressure on our neck and backs. We are also likely sitting or standing with poor posture, which affects our shoulders, hips, knees.

Matt Pippin, CSCS, Mobility Expert and co-Founder of Pippin Performance, is someone I met via a mutual colleague and he has helped me tremendously with my hips. Pippin explains that “more aches and pains are happening because we are walking less and our usual body treatments like massage, chiropractic adjustments, stretch practitioners, trainers, yoga class, pilates, etc. have either been completely eliminated or have been severely compromised. We are also not using our chairs properly and above all, stress levels are currently through the roof.” Research has shown that chronic high levels of stress have been associated with more pain throughout the body.

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