It’s looking as though many of us could be home for a while. Some will be working from home, some may be sitting for long periods of time, and some might even take this time to learn a new skill. Chances are, though, that we will all be a bit stressed; physically and emotionally.
Stress loves to activate the muscles of the neck, upper back and jaw. Also, prolonged sitting promotes poor posture and back/neck strain. All of this can lead to headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, burning between the shoulder blades and low back aching.
What are you going to do to stay healthy and comfortable? I’ve got a few tips that can provide you some relief. Note: please use these recommendations at your own discretion. If any of the following suggestions cause you extra pain, please stop.
First, let’s take power posture breaks. If you have been sitting for a while, stand up and bend backward for better low back health. This will restore the curve to the low back and reduce the strain on the tissues on the back of the spine. Frequent stretching is a good idea. I recommend doing this hourly.
The most common postural problem is forward carriage of the head and rounding of the shoulders. Over time, the tissues in the neck and upper back actually adapt to support the bad posture, making it difficult to sit upright. The good news is that the affected tissue can be remodeled in most people, but it takes some dedication.
Click this link to learn a seated postural correction technique that can help relieve neck and upper back strain. This exercise should be performed every hour for 10 seconds. It will cause some soreness in the lower neck, upper chest and mid back, but within a few weeks will help to correct the postural faults.
One of my favorite postural correction exercises is wall angels. This exercise helps to stretch out tight chest/shoulder muscles and activates the muscles between the shoulder blades that hold them back. Performing ten repetitions before breakfast, lunch and bedtime will open chest flexibility and help you sit and stand upright.
It is also beneficial to stretch tight neck muscles. The upper trapezius muscle is the most commonly tense and short muscle that I encounter. The following two stretches (1.lateral trapezius stretch and 2.diagonal trapezius stretch) can be performed several times daily.
Let’s put postural correction and postural health on your home projects list. In my next post, I’ll provide some tips for relaxing the muscles of your TMJ.
Matthew H Kowalski, DC
Chiropractor and Associate Clinical Director
Osher Clinical Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
850 Boylston Street, Suite 422
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467