With the transition to home offices, hand therapists are witnessing an increase in clients with arm, shoulder, and neck pain. Whether musculoskeletal or nerve in origin, people are working from their laptops, tablets, or cell phones. The daily breaks those people were accustomed to, such as a lunch break, interacting with coworkers in the office, stepping away from the desk, walking to-and-from a car, etc., are nonexistent while working from home. We are moving less and hunching over our electronics in home dining rooms or coffee tables to cope with the pandemic. These positions put stress on the upper extremities.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help minimize your chances of experiencing hand, wrist, shoulder, arm, and neck pain.

External Keyboard
Purchase an external keyboard to place on your lap or a desk with a keyboard-roll out tray. Since external keyboards can be moved, this gives your arms a change in position. Muscles can rest and aren’t necessarily in one position. If you experience numbness in the small and ring fingers, it’s recommended that you straighten your elbows while typing. It’s essential to have your wrists below your elbows while typing to avoid pain or future issues.

Raise Your Laptop
Neck pain and headaches can come from a tilted head forward and downward to view a screen. This position also puts tension on the nerves and muscles in your neck, shoulder, and upper back. To avoid this, set your laptop on a stack of big books to raise your laptop to eye level.

Body Position
Are you sitting slumped on your tailbone, leaning forward? Scoot back, so you sit directly on your sit bones and balance your trunk over your hips. This posture aligns the spine and allows muscles to work more efficiently. Ensure your forearms aren’t resting at an angle and hanging over the edge of your desk. If they are, pull your laptop closer to the edge of the desk and move your chair back, so your forearms aren’t touching the desk. This simple gesture relieves unnecessary pressure on your arms while typing.  Relax your shoulders and allow them to glide down if they are elevated and forward or off-balance. Raise your breastbone to open the chest. A computer camera can sometimes be helpful to determine your best posture.

Move More
When we sit in static positions, our bodies become stiff. Stretch your arms, extend your elbows, wrists, and fingers, and roll your neck and shoulders every 20 to 30 minutes. Stand up, jump around, dance, or do some squats. If you lose track of time while working, set a timer to remind yourself to keep moving.

Breathe Better
While under intense work patterns, people tend to take shallow, quick, incomplete breaths. The absence of deep breathing causes us to feel anxious, stiff, and distracted. Pay attention to your breath and take slower, more deep, complete breaths. Breathe in through the nose and pull a steady stream of air through to your stomach and allow the breath to relax before exhaling.

Set Reasonable Expectations
In our frantic world, working in a different environment and taking care of children during your workday can create chaos. Set reasonable expectations and take frequent movement and hydration breaks. Be kind to yourself; practice self-care. Your work is important, but taking care of yourself allows you to perform better in every aspect.

If you are having arm, shoulder, or neck pain and need assistance, contact the specialists at Michigan Hand & Wrist today.

Michigan Hand & Wrist was founded in 2001 with the mission to provide the highest-quality care for patients seeking surgical or non-surgical hand or upper extremity relief. Our goal is to exhaust all non-operative measures before discussing or moving on to surgical interventions. We offer on-site physical therapy from therapists committed to improving your quality of life. Our individualized treatments are modern, progressive, and exceptional. Contact us today at www.michiganhandandwrist.com or call 248-596-0412.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

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