Due to the pandemic and the consequent lockdown, many of us find ourselves working from home. This means that we may not be moving around as much, and our home desk and the posture we adopt while working may not be as good as they should be. These things can lead to muscle tension, back pain, and even headaches.

We recently invited Orthopedic Physiotherapist Dr Sanjana Singhvi, to host an Ask Me Anything session for Malini’s Girl Tribe on Facebook, and address all posture-related concerns. Dr Singhvi answered all questions about ways to relieve aches, pains and headaches; best postures to adopt while doing domestic chores; tips on creating an ideal work station at home; and more! Read on to know all the tips she shared on taking better care of our backs while working from home.

Q. How can I reduce the stiffness in my neck and shoulders?

Give yourself enough breaks through the workday. Start with basic neck stretches—pull the neck on each side and hold for about 20 counts. You can heat the muscles around the neck and shoulder blades. Ensure you have a neck and upper back mobility program—so that the joints don’t get stiff. Simple upper back rotations, cat-camel, thread-a-needle, sitting head nods, etc. are exercises that will work into your stiffness.

Q. I always have severe pain in my shoulder blades and lower back. I can feel the knots sometimes, and massages don’t help. 

You are probably going into a posture called the couch slouch, wherein from the shoulders to the lower back, your spine is completely rounded. The massages provide only temporary pain relief. You need to maintain the normal arches and curves of the spine to feel less discomfort. Make sure your shoulders are in line with your ears, your chest and upper back are not rounded, and the lower back is neither excessively rounded nor arched. Start with simple posture correction and work your way into strengthening the muscles that require you to hold this position.

Q. I am facing issues with my eyesight. I am unable to read anything on the screen, could it be due to a wrong posture? 

It could be due to the fact that your screen is too close to you. Whether you use a laptop or desktop, the screen should be arm’s length away. Also, you may not need glasses, but you may be experiencing digital fatigue, wherein the eyes get tired due to the reflection from the screen. Either give yourself frequent breaks to reduce the glare coming from the screen or get reflective glasses to reduce the strain on your eyes.

Q. I get lower back pain when I try to sit upright. What could be the reason and what can I do about it?  

The reason for your back pain could be that you’re over-exaggerating the arch of the lower back while trying to sit upright. Ensure the arch of the lower back is in neutral—not excessively arched or slouched. Also, use a small towel roll just behind your lower back to maintain that arch. Try sitting on a chair rather than sitting cross-legged. Tight buttock muscles can pull on the lower back in the cross-legged position and could be the reason for your pain.

Q. My thumbs hurt and I experience a clicking sound, do you have any suggestions for pain relief?

Thumb pain and clicks can be due to multiple reasons. The thumb joint is a smaller one and the muscle tendons over the joint could be over-working due to activities like typing on the phone. Alternatively, you could have arthritis of the joints which could also contribute towards the symptoms. Use a thumb brace while doing activities that require the use of your thumbs. This would help strengthen the smaller muscles around the wrist that go into our fingers to give thumbs the extra support. One of the easiest exercises that help is using a stress ball and gently pressing into it to start working those muscles.

Do you have any tips to relieve backaches? Please share it with us in the comments below.

Join Malini’s Girl Tribe on Facebook to be a part of more such conversations!