Is Working from Home Giving You Neck/Back Pain?
Working from home has become a new normal for many people around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it has its benefits, such as increased flexibility and reduced commute time, it also comes with its own set of challenges, especially for people who are hypermobile. One of the most common complaints of people who work from home is neck and back pain. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this and why hypermobile people are more prone to such pain.
The human body is designed to move and change positions frequently, and long hours of sitting in the same posture can lead to discomfort and pain. When working from home, people tend to sit in the same chair for extended periods, often without taking sufficient breaks. The result is that the muscles in the neck and back become stiff and strained, leading to pain and discomfort. The lack of a dedicated workspace and ergonomically designed furniture can exacerbate the problem.
Hypermobile people are more susceptible to neck and back pain because they have an increased range of motion in their joints, making them more flexible than others. This hypermobility can lead to less stability in the joints, meaning that the the muscles and ligaments surrounding them have to work harder to keep them stable. This can result in increased tension and strain on the muscles and ligaments, leading to pain and discomfort.
Another factor that contributes to neck and back pain in hypermobile people is emotional stress, as hypermobile people are more likely to experience anxiety than the general population. This anxiety, and the stress it creates, can lead to increased tension in the muscles, which can lead to pain and discomfort over time. Anxious people also have a tendency to breathe in a shallower way, often using their upper ribs more than their diaphragm. This can put extra demand on certain muscles in the neck, which can therefore become tired and achy. Research shows that, contrary to what you may expect, being isolated – such as when working from home – can actually increase anxiety, making this even more of an issue.
So, what can be done to prevent neck and back pain when working from home, especially for hypermobile people?
The first step is to create a dedicated workspace that is ergonomically designed to allow you to be comfortable. This includes a supportive chair that is adjustable to fit the individual’s height and weight. Desks that can be adjusted to allow sitting or standing work are great, as switching between the two positions uses very different muscle groups, allowing you to rotate which areas are taking the strain.
Far more important than this, however, is remembering to take frequent breaks and move around during the workday. This can include stretching or taking a short walk to relieve tension and stiffness in the muscles, think of these as “movement snacks” for your body. Regular exercise, especially resistance training, can also help to improve the body’s ability to support itself for longer periods of time, thereby reducing the risk of neck and back pain.
Finally, stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help to reduce stress and tension, helping to reduce the risk of pain and discomfort.
In conclusion, working from home can increase some people’s risk of developing neck and back pain, especially in the hypermobile population. The lack of movement that comes with long hours of sitting in the same position can lead to muscle strain and discomfort. Additionally, hypermobility can lead to reduced joint stability and increased muscular demand, making hypermobile people more prone to neck and back pain. However, by creating a dedicated workspace, taking frequent breaks, and practicing stress management techniques, it is possible to reduce the risk of pain and discomfort when working from home.
Posted on 20th February 2023