Many of you are now working from home due to the novel coronavirus, but don’t necessarily have the ergonomic workstation that you were accustomed to using at your office. You are also probably using a laptop, likely for hours on end, at your kitchen table, dining room table, coffee table, on your couch or … Continue reading “MAKE DO WITH WHAT YOU HAVE AT HOME – TIPS FOR HOME WORKSTATION”
Many of you are now working from home due to the novel coronavirus, but don’t necessarily have the ergonomic workstation that you were accustomed to using at your office. You are also probably using a laptop, likely for hours on end, at your kitchen table, dining room table, coffee table, on your couch or on your bed. Doing this for weeks or months on end you are likely experiencing maybe for the first time neck, shoulder and back muscle aches and pains that you didn’t have before you were relegated to working out of your home. One solution is to go online and buy an expensive chair, desk and other specialized equipment. Or you can properly use what you have at home by making just a few simple adjustments to your present work situation.
Mirriam-Webster’ definition of ergonomics is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that people and what they use interact most efficiently and safely”. If you can accomplish this by making a few simple changes you will not only be more productive and better focused, but will avoid the strains and pains that go along with prolonged improper sitting postures.
Here are a few easy suggestions using what you have at home to prevent undue muscle strain to your neck, shoulders and back whether you use a desktop or laptop:
- Use a straight back chair at your dining or kitchen table. Sit as far back in your chair as you can so your back touches the back rest. If you can’t sit all the way back you can fill in the gap using a rolled towel or pillow. This will enable you to sit up straight rather than having to lean too forward to too far back which will put stress on your neck, shoulders and back.
- Plant your feet flat on the floor. Don’t cross or sit on your legs. If your feet can’t touch the floor, rest your feet on a platform that you can create with a stack of books, a wood box or a cushion.
- Ideally your forearms should be parallel to the floor with your hands resting on your keyboard. If the table is too low then place your laptop on some type of raised surface. If the table is too high then sit on a cushion to raise yourself up to meet the ideal forearm position.
- For prolonged laptop use, a laptop stand is recommended (which you can create yourself) but this would also require an investment in an external keyboard and mouse. If that is not practical, make sure your screen is tilted back slightly and move your chair away from your table so that the laptop screen is about an arm’s length away and near the edge of the table. This posture will prevent you from leaning forward.
Now that you have designed a more ideal ergonomic workstation, staying in one place for too long will take its toll on you no matter how good your posture is, unless you take breaks! So set your smart watches! Ideally, you need to stretch, stand up, move about approximately every 20-30 minutes for at least a minute, but 5-10 min would be even better.
Whether you have pain or stiffness that has just started or troubling you for months from too much sitting, typing, or other close work, your physical therapist can give you more suggestions on setting up your workstation or instructing you with a stretching routine.
We’re here if you need us at Innovative Physical Therapy for in person appointments (yes, we are open!) or via virtual (telehealth) appointments!
Call us at 619-260-0750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to book your appointment today.
researched and written by: Marilyn Johnson, PT.
Why does form matter? Proper form helps you work out more efficiently so you can use your energy for the extra push rather than wasted movements. Improper form may mean you are targeting unintended muscles or muscle groups. The better your form the better your results – run faster, lift more, and jump higher when you do it right. More importantly, when you … Continue reading “So you think you can squat!”
Why does form matter?
Proper form helps you work out more efficiently so you can use your energy for the extra push rather than wasted movements. Improper form may mean you are targeting unintended muscles or muscle groups. The better your form the better your results – run faster, lift more, and jump higher when you do it right. More importantly, when you use improper form you risk serious injury.
Today we’re going to talk about three functional exercises. A functional exercise strengthens the muscles that you use on a daily basis doing everyday activities.
Squats are an essential exercise since we constantly bend down to either pick or lift something up. It is a great exercise that strengthens the quads, rectus abdominis, and posterior chain of muscles: erector spinae, hamstrings, gluteus maximus. If performed correctly, squats can improve our activities of daily living, and help reduce the risk of potential injuries. Here are some squatting cues to help you perform the perfect squat!
- Start off standing with good posture: neutral spine and feet shoulder width apart.
- The initial movement is to hinge at the hips
- As you hinge your hips, bend your knees to get lower. Go as low till your thighs are parallel to the ground. If you’re not able to go as low, bend your knees to where you’ll feel the tension on your quads before any pain.
- When you are at the end point of the squat, make sure your torso and shins are parallel to each other, your heels are planted on the ground, and your weight should be more on the midfoot.
- As you go back up, make sure your knees and hips are extending at the same time.
- Also, when you go up, make sure your knees don’t cave in. Do your best to maintain your base position and drive the knees out. Caving of the knees (valgus) can potentially lead to hip or knee injuries.
- It is important to always maintain that neutral position. Common myth of performing the squat, especially the back squat with a barbell, is to look up. Looking up will actually put more pressure on the thoracic spine and lead to injury.
Everyday when we constantly bend over and pick something up, we’re performing a type of weight lifting exercise, the deadlift. A deadlift is a functional full body exercise that involves lifting up weights/objects from the ground to hip level. Although we perform this movement on a consistent basis, is it done correctly?
Cues/Tips for performing the deadlift:
- Hinge at the hips
The deadlift uses the posterior chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae muscles). Hinging at the hips will help activate these groups of muscles.
- Knees bent and heels flat on the ground
Establish a solid base and an even distribution of weight on the feet so you won’t fall too forward or back.
- Maintain a neutral spine
DO NOT ROUND THE BACK!!! This is very important while performing the deadlift. You want to retract the scapulas, keep the back straight and engage that lower back and core. Just imagine a rod is on your back, you want that rod to maintain the 3 points of contact: Your head, thoracic spine, and sacrum (butt).
- Hips and Knees should fully extend at the same time
Evenly distribute the load on the lower back, hips, and legs. Extending the legs first will require more muscle activation on the lower back, and can potentially lead to an injury.
Following these cues will help improve your activities of daily living (ADL), and help reduce back pain while lifting. So next time you grab those grocery bags, or pick up and place down that heavy box/object, be very conscious and aware of your body positioning. Also, don’t forget to always engage that core!
The plank is a great full body exercise to strengthen the core. It also targets the back, shoulders, and quads. Virtually any age group can perform the plank exercise. There are always modifications if you cannot safely get on the floor, such as holding the plank position at a slanted angle on a sturdy table or chair.
- Benefits of the plank exercise
- Strengthens your core
- Gives you better posture and helps with back pain
- Improves flexibility
- Enhances bone and joint health
- Mental fortitude
How to do a plank
- Go into push-up position on the floor.
- Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
- Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
- Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
- Hold the position for as long as you can.
- For beginners, hold for 30 seconds to build up tolerance and core strength
- Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
Questions? Give us a call!