Protecting Your Body While Working From Home

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic many of us are working in “offices” that are a little different than we are used to. And while working at home has been crucial to flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases it does come with its own set of challenges, and for many people a few new aches and pains. Many of us don’t have a great home office set up and find ourselves working from the kitchen table, couch or bedroom. This change in work station can lead to an increase in neck and back pain due to poor body mechanics. Poor posture, due to being hunched over our computers or sitting at a makeshift home “desk, can lead to headaches and neck pain. Dining room chairs used as as our office chairs can cause back pain.  Here are a few tips and stretches to help combat these issues while we continue to work from home. 

  1. Workstation modification

This is maybe the most important thing you can do to address any increase in neck or back pain you are having. First of all, if you can bring your office chair from work home that can be very helpful. But if that isn’t an option, try to sit in a supportive chair and bring your workstation to you. That means that when you are sitting at your table/desk your back should be supported, your arms should be relaxed at your side and your keyboard/computer should be close enough to you that you don’t have to lean or reach forward to see the screen or keyboard. If you have a desktop make sure the screen is at eye level. With a laptop try to get close enough to you so that you don’t have to lean forward to see the screen. Making these changes will improve your working posture and decrease tightness in your muscles. 


Adjust Your Work Station

Sit in a supportive chair and try to bring your computer as close to your body as you can.

  1. Stretching

Even with some modifications to your at home work station you still might be experiencing some increased tightness so here are a few stretches to help decrease that stiffness. 


Seated Upper Trap Stretch

Grab the bottom of your seat. Sit with good posture. Tilt your head away from the hand that is holding on. Hold the stretch for 15 sec 2-3 times


Scapular Retraction

To cue good posture, squeeze your shoulder-blades down and back, hold for 10 sec repeat 10 times


Seated Forward Flexion Stretch

Sit at the edge of your chair and lean forward to grab your feet; let your spine round and feel a stretch in your back. Hold for 15 sec 2-3 times

If you try these stretches for about a week and are still having discomfort give us a call at 406-586-4678. We are an essential business and remain open to help keep you feeling good and healthy in these crazy times.

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Breathing and Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is certainly a hot topic of conversation for many men and women. Specifically, people begin to focus on their pelvic floor when they are having incontinence, urgency/frequency, prolapse, or pain associated with going to the bathroom or having sex. These are all issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction. But, what many don’t realize, is that your pelvic floor is also integral in one of our most basic functions: breath.

The diaphragm, our respiratory muscle, is located at the bottom of the ribcage. At rest, the diaphragm is a domelike shape, and with inhalation the diaphragm muscle contracts and drops downward toward your pelvis. This downward motion is followed by a shifting downward of internal organs, into the pelvic bowl. The pelvic floor muscles and fascia make up the bottom of the pelvic bowl. So, with this downward force during inhalation, the pelvic floor muscles also descend or stretch slightly downward. Immediately following inhalation and pelvic floor descent, is exhalation, and similarly, the pelvic floor follows the diaphragm as it rises upward to a resting position. This synchronous rising and falling of the diaphragm and pelvic floor is often referred to as the “piston effect”.

Not to be left out, the lower abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis) also contribute to this synchronous movement pattern. Working together by relaxing and stretching with inhalation and a “belly breath”, and tightening and drawing inward slightly with exhalation. In this way, the diaphragm, abdominals, and pelvic floor make up an abdominal cylinder that modulates intra-abdominal forces and pressure changes.

When this cylinder isn’t coordinating well together, or if there is tightness or weakness within the system, we see common musculoskeletal complaints: low back pain, SIJ pain, poor stability through the back and pelvis, hip pain, pelvic pain, incontinence, urgency/frequency of urine or stool, prolapse, poor posture, balance issues, and intolerance to exercise.

Our pelvic floor physical therapists can help evaluate these movement patterns and coordination of these systems, and create a treatment approach specific to you and your individual challenges.