A: The pandemic’s been hell on our collective posture. These 3Ms can help: (1) Moving more; (2) Modifying your home office/school set-up; (3) Minding your mental health.
MOVE MORE. AND MORE OFTEN
Stretches targeting the neck, shoulders, and arms are awesome; as are aerobic activities (cites below). The most awesome exercises? Those that you’ll actually do. Health journalist Julia Belluz pithily sums up the related science: “just find a way to sweat – and don’t sweat the details.” (cite below). Frequency matters, too. New York-Presbyterian’s Dr. K. Daniel Riew suggests that we desk jockeys get up and walk around “at least every 15-30 minutes, even if it’s [only] for a minute.”
MODIFY YOUR SET-UP
Thumb-typing furiously on an iPhone while slouched on soft surfaces is a big no-no. [Editorial note: Oops. Guilty. Very guilty!]. A better set-up involves a good chair, a computer with an eye-level screen, and feet flat on the floor (or a footrest). The University of California Ergonomics Program has curated an A-MAZING treasure trove of tips and ideas for working and learning at home (cite below), including videos demonstrating best practices for laptop use (for both adults and kids!) and safe smartphone strategies.
“MIND” YOUR MENTAL HEALTH (apologies for the bad pun)
Gently check in with yourself about your mental health. Because here’s the thing about pain: Sometimes it has a purely “mechanical” cause, but sometimes it doesn’t. Mental health challenges can manifest in physical pain – on this the science is quite clear (cite below). The good news is that there are numerous evidence-based treatments targeting psychosocial pain triggers. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has published a comprehensive systematic review of **all** of the related research….clocking in at over 600 pages! (We link to it and the one-page TL;DR below :)).
Bottom-line: Get up and move. Check your tech set-up. Check-in with yourself. And when in doubt, reach out to your primary care provider. Please don’t suffer alone.
Your Nerdy Girls
Stretch like a “starfish” to help alleviate tech neck
Aerobic activity also good (Dr. K. Daniel Riew): https://healthmatters.nyp.org/how-to-prevent-tech-neck/
AHRQ systematic review (Check out page ii for the TL;DR)