We’ve become sedentary creatures at work and at home. We hunch over our desktop computers at work sitting for hours on end and do the same at home on our laptops and tablets – Facebook-ing and Twittering or binge watching shows on Netflix. All of that sitting can become a royal pain in the neck. It can even kill us.
Degenerative neck problems develop from prolonged sitting with no breaks, improper posture, and poor habits, and existing neck injuries – such as cervical herniated discs or arthritis – can get a lot worse. Severe cases will probably require a trip to the neurologist and a batch of physical therapy sessions, but many problems can be addressed by being more mindful and creating good habits. The infographic below provides insight into the dangers of sitting too much and offers some tips. Here are a few more.
Have multiple work spaces – Don’t sit at your desk all day; vary your work stations. Make a habit of working in the conference room for an hour each day. Just the act of getting up and walking over there and back is helpful. If you’re working from home, go to the library or a coffee shop to complete a project or two.
Stand up and work – Get a standup desk, like the adjustable-height GeekDesk. If you’re really serious about getting fit, splurge for a treadmill desk and walk-and-work. Or, simply use a box on your desk or the kitchen counter at home to place your laptop.
Take regular breaks – When I get going on an interesting or deadline-looming project, hours can go by without getting up or even shifting much. It’s important to be mindful of when you need to take breaks – before your neck pain alerts you. I try to do it at the top of the hour – even if it’s just getting up, walking around the desk and sitting back down. The Pomodoro Technique is tailor made for this.
Neck and shoulder exercises – Over the years I’ve come across a core 12-15 exercises and stretches that help relieve neck pain and strengthen surrounding muscles for better support. Most can be done with a TheraBand. Schedule a few physical therapy sessions with the goal of creating a routine of exercises that work for you. Meanwhile, check out these exercises for neck pain to get started. One of my favorites is the simple but effective chin tuck. (There’s an entire Udemy course devoted to a pain free work environment: Pain Free at Work – Therapeutic Exercises for Office Workplace Ergonomics.)
Proper posture – We’re all aware of this and most of us know what to do, but we forget until the pain reminds us and another trip to the physical therapist gives us insight into what we already know. We’re not mindful. (There’s that word, again.) Check out these tips from the U.S. Dept of Labor. Put a picture up at your workstation to remind you.
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