3 Ways that Staying at Home Could be Influencing Your Pain & How to Manage It
With the implementation of the circuit breaker to curb the spread of coronavirus, most Singaporeans have been stuck at home for the past 3 months. For those with chronic pain problems such as back pain or knee pain, how does this affect them? Does staying at home have any impact on the pain you feel? In this article, we will be exploring 3 ways of how the staying at home may influence your pain and how to manage this.
1) Workspaces and back pain
Working from home poses a new challenge of creating a suitable home office set up. Working from home and back pain does not always come hand in hand, however if you have existing back pain – the likelihood of this happening is higher especially if you do not have access to a proper ergonomic set up at home. When our body has to work for prolonged hours in a poor posture or poor ergonomic set-up, it may trigger symptoms such as fatigue, discomfort, or tightness, which are often first signs associated with back pain.
Tips to avoid pain while staying at home
Here are some tips on adjusting your workstation to avoid back pain. Remember that a good ergonomic set-up not only reduces the chances of developing back pain while working from home but also increases productivity.
- Focus on making your work area comfortable by selecting a chair or desk with appropriate height.
- Try to level your monitor or laptop screens to eye level and choose a chair with good lumbar support.
- Prop pillows to cushion your lower back for more support if you start experiencing some discomfort or aches with prolonged seating.
- Use a wireless earpiece or headset so you don’t have to crunch your neck when using the phone or during teleconferences.
2) Movement is Medicine
During this circuit breaker period, it is common to see a plummeting of our daily step count. Staying at home definitely does impact our movement drastically as our daily commute to work is now reduced to the 10-20 steps from the bed to the desk. The reduction in movement along with the change in our daily routine could also responsible for the pain we’re feeling. For individuals with joint-related or arthritis problems, movement is essential to provide circulation and blood flow to our joints and muscles.
Take breaks and keep active
For individuals who tend to suffer from work-related neck and back pain, help your body to cope while staying at home by taking regular breaks. Work breaks will provide a short recovery and rest period for your muscles. During the break, you can walk around the house or do some stretching for your tight muscles.
Consider incorporating regular exercise or physical activity to improve general circulation and to maintain physical fitness. With the closure of gyms and sports facilities due to the circuit breaker, you can seek other exercise options such as using exercise routine apps or following YouTube exercise videos for some H.I.I.T or yoga workouts. If you are not a fan of home workouts, your body can also benefit from engaging in regular low-impact aerobic activities such as taking a stroll in the park or walking up and down the stairs in your corridor. Remember that exercise or stretching at regular intervals is a key part in preventing musculoskeletal disorders.
3) Poor sleep increases pain
During times of economic uncertainty and the changes in daily routine, it can greatly impact our sleep patterns for better or worse. Staying at home may have a negative impact on our sleeping patterns, thus impacting our pain receptors.
One common statement during this period is that many are unable to distinguish between the different days as they start to blend into one another. Staying at home can wreck one’s sense of time due to the lack of routine, causing many individuals to experience a disruption in their sleep pattern due to long working hours, overseas teleconferences, or as a result of entertainment such as binge-watching of drama series. Poor sleeping habits or sleep deprivation are often linked with increased pain.
When we are not well-rested, our bodies can become more sensitive to pain, and this results in a reduced pain threshold. Causing one’s tolerance for pain to reduce, thus making pain feel worse the next morning. Sleep plays a fundamental role in our overall mental and physical health. While we sleep, our body gets the opportunity to recharge, to promote muscle recovery and cell repair. Sufficient rest is one of the top priorities in managing chronic pain conditions. It also helps to reduce one’s reliance on pain medications.
Strategies to help reclaim your sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, speak to a medical professional who may be more qualified to help you. Here are some simple guidelines that can help to improve your quality of sleep while staying at home.
- Try avoiding computer screens or TV screens 1-2 hours before bed.
- Avoid caffeine beverages a few hours before bed.
- Keep a regular sleep routine. Go to bed around the same time every night and aim to wake up at the same time every morning.
- Avoid taking naps as it decreases the amount of sleep that we need at night. This may result in insomnia or broken sleep.
- Create a space dedicated to work and sleep. Try not to take your work to bed and use a desk to keep it out of your bedroom.
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