At Home Tips For Aches/Pains During the Coronavirus Quarantine
Regardless of who you are this quarantine has most likely had a major impact on your normal daily life. Whether you’re working from home or laid off you’re probably unwilling to go too far from your home unless there is something you absolutely need. We understand the reluctance to go out during this time but we also understand that you’re probably feeling: aches, pains, decreased range of motion, or even weakness in different areas of your body. With this in mind we have compiled a list of some of the things you can do at home to ease the stress on your spine as well as some preventative measures you can take to help keep your function up and your pain levels down. We’ll work through your body from the top down starting with the head/neck and ending with the low back/pelvis. Let’s get started.
When we’re talking about the head/neck the biggest aggravator of this area is stress. Stress causes a tremendous amount of tension to form in the trapezius muscles. Sometimes there will even be an imbalance due to sleeping habits or a specific activity that causes more tightness in one trapezius muscle than the other. This tension can even play a role in cervicogenic headaches or headaches that are caused from misalignments in the neck. When it comes to relieving this tension stress relief is paramount. Look, we are all stressed over the quarantine and this current outbreak but anything we can do on a daily basis to keep that stress from getting the best of us will make a huge difference. Go for a walk, read a book, watch a funny movie or TV show, play with your kids, etc. Exercise is also a fantastic way to keep your stress levels in check and is something I will mention later in the low back section as well. Another thing you can do to keep your lower neck/shoulder muscles loosened is to buy a handheld massager. There are a lot of massagers out there but one of the best that we have been able to find is the PureWave massager. It has multiple attachments which can be used to loosen not only the trapezius muscles but many other muscles all over the body. This massager also has a nice long handle meaning that you can loosen just about any muscle without needing someone else to use the massager on you. Don’t worry we don’t get any kickback for this particular massager it is just one of the best that we have found. If you would like to get one the cost is $125, we do carry them in our office or you can pick one up on Amazon. A word of caution though, massagers should never be used on the neck itself and should only be used on the muscles at the base of the neck, the trapezius muscles and lower. The last big contributor to neck issues is posture. I guarantee that almost every one of us has been spending a lot of time on their computer, phone, or tablet. Sitting at the computer for even just an hour can cause our shoulders to droop forward and our head to compensate by extending back. This puts an enormous amount of stress on the upper and lower neck so my recommendation here is to either buy a standing desk or improvise one. Gather a large stack of books to put under your monitor and keyboard so that you can use the computer standing and remove all of that neck strain from the equation. Similarly looking down at your phone or tablet to text, tweet, browse Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, or any of the other social medias puts our neck in a very flexed position. The long terms effects of this posture include: osteoarthritic degeneration, tech neck, and even a full reversal of the cervical curve! The reversal of the curvature places even more strain on the upper and lowermost areas of the neck which catalyzes even more osteoarthritic changes.
The mid back is another area that can become irritated and like the neck can be impacted by high stress levels. Stress causes our shoulder blades to pull tightly towards our spine making this area feel extremely tight and hard to move. As with the neck any and all ways to relieve stress will help in this region as well. However one of the best things, apart from stress relief, that you can do to combat this is actually to buy a foam roller. Rolling this area on a foam roller opens up your chest and can help to alleviate some of the tension that develops in the: paraspinal, rhomboid, teres major and teres minor muscle groups. I recommend watching this short video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD71TBqbGEU, that shows you how to roll your mid back. The only critique that I have of the man rolling in this video is that he is rolling too quickly, when you roll out your mid back if you roll over an area that is sore or feels stuck stop at that area. Hold in that position and you may hear a small pop or just feel a slow melting away of that tightness. Foam rollers tend to be pretty cheap and you can usually pick up a good one for between $30-$50.I do have one word of caution when it comes to using the foam roller and that is, do not roll your low back. Rolling your low back causes anterior pelvic tilt that is in no way beneficial to your posture and can jam the zygapophyseal joints in your low back. The mid back contains several larger muscle groups so it can also be a great area to use the PureWave massager. You may even want to massage the area and then foam roll it afterwards so that the area is much looser before rolling. The last tip that we have for the mid back is that even though there is not a lot of motion that happens here, due to the rigidity of the rib cage, there are still two good yoga positions that can make a world of difference. The nice thing is that both positions are actually in sequence and therefore require the same starting body position. They are called cat and camel. To start you will need to get down on your hands and knees, keep your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Now you will inhale with a nice deep breath and as you are breathing in lift your head up as high as you are able and arch your mid back so that your stomach is closer to the floor. Your stomach will never actually touch the floor but focus on allowing your stomach to sag towards it. Now we will transition to cat pose, exhale and as your are exhaling let your head fall all the way down to flexion and allow your mid back to round. The middle of your back should now be much higher than your shoulders and your pelvis. Repeat this process from camel pose to cat pose 3-4 times with the accompanying breaths in and out. I often find myself resorting to these poses after I have foam rolled as it seems to allow for a greater range of motion in the mid back.
Last but not least we will discuss what to do to keep your low back/pelvis in the best working order during this time. The low back is such a key area of our spine; an injury to this area can make it hard to do just about everything. When it comes to the low back nothing is worse for it than the act of sitting. Sitting uses little to no energy as almost zero muscle activation is necessary to maintain this posture. Not to mention that sitting puts an enormous amount of weight on our lumbar discs. The weight is equal to approximately one and a half times our body weight with perfect seated posture and up to two times our body weight if we are leaning forward. Armed with this information do your best to avoid sitting but if you’re one of those people that is working remotely here is the solution. The solution is one that I have already mentioned to help the head/neck, a standing desk. Standing is far better for all areas of our spine and is far less damaging on our low back specifically. If you do get or create a standing desk do yourself a favor and ease yourself into standing for long periods. Start with an hour or two of standing and the rest sitting. Incrementally work your way up to a full work day of standing. This will not only make the change in routine more permanent but also prevent you from feeling the body aches that can arise due to such a big change in daily posture. The final two ways to help keep your low back going when you can’t make it in to the chiropractor go hand in hand. They are two forms of exercise that specifically strengthen the muscles around the low back making us far less likely to injure this area. They are yoga and biking. Yoga is a great way to promote muscular health in all areas of the body due to its perfect balance of strength and flexibility. Many of the postures and positions directly target your low back and pelvic areas giving you the strength in the low back and the abdominal regions to severely diminish your chances of suffering a low back injury. Yoga can also be a fantastic way to not only prevent low back issues but actually alleviate low back pain as well. A word of caution though, some yoga poses are difficult and require some skill to perform correctly. Start with a basic yoga routine and a shorter duration maybe 15-20 minutes depending on your health and age. The second form of exercise, biking, is one of the best ways to develop strength around the pelvis. Running and walking are unable to target the upper portions of the quadriceps muscles or the hip flexors to the same degree as cycling. Whether you choose to ride outside or get an exercise bike to ride indoors both are fantastic options. However, an exercise bike does allow you to ride any time of the year and means that in a time like this when we are in a quarantine you don’t have to rely on the gym being open.
I hope by this point that you have a good understanding of some things that you can do to not only alleviate pain but also prevent it with some solid proactive approaches as well. If you have any questions on any of these tips or would like to know some tips for another area such as a knee or elbow please feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are continuing to treat patients that require care due to acute or emergency injuries per Gov. Wolf’s instructions. We wish all of you health and happiness and if you are someone that has contracted the coronavirus, a speedy recovery.