Owing to the current Covid-19 pandemic, people have been compelled to work from home. But while the work came home, the workstation did not; forcing many to work on not very ideal workstations like sofa, couches and even bed. “These sitting areas lead to bad posture further exacerbating the degenerative changes or wear and tear. You end up slouching, rounding up your shoulders putting your head forward,” said Dr Sheetal Rane, head-physiotherapy at Bhatia Hospital Mumbai.
Long hours of sitting also increases pressure on intervertebral discs. “This eventually leads to undue strain on the tissues which may result in chronic back and neck pain including spondylitis,” she mentioned.
Spondylosis vs spondylitis
The terms ‘spondylitis’ and ‘spondylosis’ are sometimes confused with one another since they sound similar and share many symptoms. However, they are separate conditions with important differences.
Spondylitis is an inflammatory condition caused by the immune system acting against the joints and other soft tissues, whereas spondylosis or spinal osteoarthritis is not inflammatory and is caused by normal “wear and tear “or as part of ageing process. “Spondylosis is common and becomes increasingly prevalent with age. Wear and tear are a normal and quite common. It usually goes unnoticed as the body’s soft tissue recovery or repair happens simultaneously. However, as the wear and tear outrun the soft tissue recovery process, symptoms start presenting. Previous injuries, bad posture may exacerbate or accelerate these degenerative changes,” said Dr Rane.
The most common symptom that a person presents is pain and stiffness. You may also get muscle spasms and weakness. The symptoms varies according to the severity and location of the spondylitis. “In significant measure, it can cause pressure on the surrounding neural structures and cause symptoms like numbness, tingling, pain that radiates down the arm or leg and weakness of the muscles,” Dr Rane shared.
Prepare your workstation
A comfortable chair with adjustable height is preferable. Your feet should be flat on the floor and not hanging. The chair should have a back rest, with a small towel roll or pillow to support lower back. The computer screen should be placed at such level that the upper border of the screen should be at eye level and 16 to 30 inches away. Forearms should be supported.
Breaks and stretching
Take a break of 2 to 5 minutes every 60 minutes. Break the position you are in. Walk around. Stand during some tasks. Do stretching exercises for arms and legs during the breaks.
Consciously make an effort to improve your posture. Sit tall aligning your ears shoulder and hips in a line. Sit an inch taller frequently.
Movement has many benefits; it relaxes tissues, lubricates joints, prevents stiffness improves circulation, reduces fatigue, and increases stamina.
Physical fitness can help you avoid and treat problems related to computer use and long hours of sitting. It improves strength endurance and flexibility. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week for better cardiac health. It also helps to keep weight gain in check. Some of these exercises could be in the form of aerobics, Zumba, cycling, swimming, skipping or even simple walking.
It is a must to visit a doctor if you experience constant pain, numbness, weakness, and encounter problems that interfere with daily activities, said Dr Rane. “In acute stages of the pain, rest is beneficial, following which you can start with posture correction exercises and stretching. The physiotherapist will gradually progress your exercises to strengthening,” said Dr Rane.
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