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Home office and our health

Blog - 2021-01-05

Get rid of back pain and create the best conditions for working from home. Every movement is desirable, sports load done correctly is an excellent investment in future life satisfaction.

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How to combine a home office and a healthy body?

The answer to this question is easy. However, using only the word "negatively" to explain without further explanation would be too simplistic. Specifically, in the case of working from home, it cannot be claimed that it is simply harmful. Globally, this is a trend of the century and often a welcome one. However, the problem arises when the previously optional option ceases to exist and there is a need to switch to another mode completely without preparing not only oneself, but also the conditions under which the new situation is to take place. If you are not used to working from home, it is difficult for you to have a work environment adapted to working hours of sometimes more than eight hours. Anyone who has been used to going to work on foot, by bike, or scooter and going to the fitness center several times a week after work will learn to walk, run or exercise at home with great difficulty and quickly enough.

Pains associated with working from home

A synonym for life is movement. Even when we seem to be lying completely still, everything inside us is moving. Our body is very sensitive to static positions and sooner or later it will start to resist them. Back pain in general, together with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, has been classified as a disease of civilization since the end of the last century. Movement equals blood circulation, i.e. supplying oxygen to both muscles and internal organs. Without oxygen, we suffocate. A muscle that is forced to occupy a long-term forced position suffocates because it is tense, contracted, and the blood does not flow through it sufficiently. If this happens repeatedly, a week is often enough and the muscle corset will adapt to the forced position, as it is much easier for the body energetically. We need to focus on mental work, not physical work.

Have we created the right environment for working from home?

The 21st century produces a stooped man. We spend most of our waking hours hunched over a computer or other mobile device. It is known what parameters the workplace should have, that is, the upper edge of the monitor at eye level, elbows on the table at a right angle, a chair set so that the body squeezes with the lower limbs at about one hundred degrees, a slightly open right angle, not to mention the lighting, noise etc.. It is hard to imagine that this is what a workplace looks like at home. Rather, it can be expected that a person suddenly thrown into working from home, sits for the whole day at the dining table, conference table or shares a desk with his or her partner. A person afflicted with the impossibility to move away from home, to change the environment, is further exposed to further insults that force the muscular corset into permanent tension. In addition to sitting incorrectly, there are other members of the household confined to the house competing for his attention, often children who are hard not to please. Or a person is alone at home, without the opportunity to share, and his only meaningful activity is to work and work. These facts, and many others anyone can imagine, lead to stress. Stress manifests itself on the physical level by further tension, by curling up.

So what does a person of working age look like, who is suddenly tied to sitting at the dinner table for eight hours and from whom the employer often expects more than 100% work performance, when the same, and rightly so, is expected from him by children chained at home? Simply put, it is shortened, weakened and sore. He doesn't have a muscle in his body that doesn't suffer. Diaphragm literally pushed into the chest, shortened pectoral muscles, overloaded neck muscles, weakened deep abdominal muscles. The diaphragm ceases to fulfill its function as a postural muscle, i.e. the muscle that makes us stand upright, and at the same time its function as a sphincter of the lower esophagus. He concentrates only on breathing into the muscle contractions of the reduced chest. As a result, the postural function must be taken over by the long, superficial muscles of the spine, which, however, are designed for rapid, short-term movement, and therefore soon become overworked and painful. The consequence of failure of the function of the diaphragm as a sphincter of the lower esophagus is reflux, i.e. the return of stomach juices into the esophagus, which causes pain. Reduced lung capacity by the reduced chest muscles leads to a lack of oxygen in the body, further exacerbating stress. Stress potentiates fatigue. This leads, in addition to more pronounced curling up, to a decrease in visual acuity, in other words, to the fact that it is necessary to bring the eyes closer and closer to the monitor. The neck muscles suffer because of this, the head, which is already sitting outside the center of gravity, gets outside the body, and the muscles of the front neck are needed to hold it, which are easily overloaded. The cervical spine begins to lose its natural curve, muscle pulls on the scalp cause headaches, and the intervertebral neurovascular ganglia become irritated, which causes dizziness, feelings of nausea, sweating, and a change in heart rate. A body stretched to the maximum cannot relax even in sleep, if it falls asleep at all.

Similarly tangled cascades, of course, concern the whole body, because the muscles are interconnected and if a muscle in the neck, for example, is shortened, in other words overloaded, pain can appear in the leg.

The body, which was used to compensating for its all-day static position several times a week with certain sports activities and at the same time extra-familial social discharge, suffers even more, the changes described above only get worse.

In the spring of last year, we had little idea that we would be exposed to the need to change our current lifestyle. It is now more or less clear that the home office and other measures related to e.g. the coronavirus pandemic will be part of our future life. It's time to incorporate this knowledge into our everyday lives. In addition to arranging the home to include a dignified workplace that complies with ergonomic principles, it is necessary to learn to move outside of indoor sports fields and individually, if necessary.

Healthy body healthy mind

Our body needs movement all the time. Therefore, even when sitting in front of a computer screen, it is necessary to constantly change your position - try to take the correct position as often as possible, of course, but also occasionally lean back, lean forward, bow. But above all, after an hour of intensive work sitting, it is necessary to get up, stretch, go for a walk around the apartment, look out the window, drink - we have to circulate blood to everything, from the muscles of the back, through the muscles of the eyes to the internal organs, otherwise we lose efficiency and get the body into a vicious circle ending in pain.

We will replace the trip to work with a walk around the neighborhood, to the store, which should be part of every day in which we do not do sports. Of the individual sports that are not tied to indoor spaces, running comes into consideration. However, this is a difficult discipline for someone who has not been used to running before. Instead of or alternating with running, it is advantageous to include Nordic Walking, which, when done correctly, is an ideal sport to strengthen the whole body.

It generally applies that we exercise two days in a row and rest on the third day, or on the third day, we will significantly reduce the sports load. Definitely one day a week our body needs rest mode. It doesn't mean that we have to do nothing at all costs, lie at home on the couch, but we don't do any sports.

Every movement is desirable, sports load done correctly is an excellent investment in future life satisfaction. Unfortunately, the equation I exercise will not hurt me, I will feel good, has one big unknown, because of which the result is often the opposite. Any repetitive movement done incorrectly is more likely to hurt. Today's human body has mostly forgotten how to function properly and the muscular corset helps itself with various replacement strategies that eventually lead to pain from overuse. Unfortunately, this cannot be solved by finding exercise sets on the Internet promising to strengthen neglected muscles. It is absolutely necessary that we first get to know and experience what a correctly performed movement should look like and only then are we able to integrate it back into the functioning of our muscular system. In other words, it cannot be done without the professional advice of a physiotherapist. Only after repeated correction by an expert do we engage the right muscles. Until then, we will always use overloaded muscles to perform the movement, which will not allow the weakened muscles to work - our intention is to perform the movement, so we will use the muscles that are available to us and over and over again overload the already overloaded ones.

Everything new always enriches a person somehow. So let's enrich ourselves by learning other things, another sport, and find again the closest to the ideal functioning of our body. Our souls will also appreciate it, because we are creatures consisting of at least four equal planes. From the biological, psychological, social and spiritual levels, which balance each other.

MD Iva Jaklova
Rehabilitation doctor, Psychotherapist

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