I’ve been hearing a lot from friends lately who are in pain. Some have begun working at home due to the pandemic and are trying to stay up-to-date with work while working from couches and beds. Others are overwhelmed by stress and anxiety and see the manifestation of those conditions mirrored in their physical selves. As someone who has dealt with chronic neck and back pain for years as a work-from-home mom, I thought I could pass along some easy tips.
Grab a Tennis Ball
This is my number one recommendation, particularly for those working in chairs that are not ergonomically supportive. I want you to take a tennis ball and keep it rolling at the base of your neck, and behind your shoulder blades. Push it into your back using your chair or headboard. Do one side, and then the other.
You’re tackling those muscle knots and delivering relief in the shape of a teeny tiny foam roller; and it WORKS! Read more here.
Purchase a Da Vinci Tool
I hadn’t heard of this one before my physical therapist recommended it. This is what it looks like on Amazon. You’ll see three different edges with varying levels of pressure. The Da Vinci tool is placed under the head and helps to relieve pressure at the base of the skull without endangering the brain stem.
It’s important to note: This is a muscle release tool, and not a massager (which some of the Amazon listings include as a descriptor, but I think it’s a bit of a misnomer.) It will cause some discomfort as you press into it for 30 seconds, but the point is to release trigger points.
Start Your Day with a Stretching Session
Studies show back pain is best relieved with movement, so a short walk and a stretching session every day will take you very far toward feeling some relief.
Simple neck stretch
[A] Look straight ahead. [B] Tuck your chin in slightly and move your head backward, slowly and smoothly. Be sure to keep your head level; you should be gliding your head backward, not bending or tipping it. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times.
Additional exercises for neck pain are available in Neck Pain: A troubleshooting guide to help you find relief, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. www.health.harvard.edu/NK
Use Hot and Cold Therapies
Cold treatments (like ice packs from the freezer) assist with inflammation and help overactive or kinked muscles subside. Heat relaxes and promotes healing. Using both hot and cold therapies can help you to feel much better.
Seek Professional Help
I personally swear by my physical therapist’s assistance with neck, shoulder, and back pain. What she has taught me about movement—how to sit, stand, sleep, etc.—has transformed my feeling of wellbeing. It doesn’t mean that I am free from discomfort or sore muscles, but I know how to deal with it now. Acupuncturists and massage therapists can also be of service.
You Don’t Need to Be in Pain
One last thing I’m going to tell you: stop being a martyr to pain and discomfort. I’ve heard so many women say “oh, it just comes with the territory” and other brushing-off of their seizing backs and twisted necks. No, you do not need to hurt. You don’t deserve it, and it doesn’t have to be your “normal.” Whether you are taking 20 minutes in the morning to do a wake-up yoga stretch or using a foam roller at night before bed, there are ways to actively address those kinks. Your wellness is important, so don’t dismiss it!