Is working from home affecting your neck and shoulders?

Are you spending more time at a desk than you previously did?  Did your workday use to be more varied than it is now? 

These changes in our working day can all lead to you feeling more neck and shoulder pain.  The amount of stress we are under can also affect our ability to manage pain and can result in us bracing our body causing more muscle tension.

An interim study examining the effects of working reports significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints. More than half of the survey respondents reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58%) and back (55%).

Are you struggling to do tasks you previously took for granted?

You might notice yourself struggling when doing certain chores around the home. During a yoga consultation, I might ask if you can reach up to hang washing on the line; if you can touch different parts of your back or brush your hair. Your answers would give me valuable information about how the issue might affect your day-to-day activity.

In the past, you may have taken these types of tasks for granted. Depending on your issue you might have noticed a gradual reduction in your range of movement, or you could have been caused by an injury, resulting in a rapid change. Whatever the cause, as your mobility becomes more restricted your body will find ways of adapting. For instance, if you struggle to turn your head to look over your shoulder you might notice swivelling your body instead. This is really common whilst driving. Have you ever spotted yourself adapting your movements? Sometimes, you may not even be aware of adaptation you’ve developed to compensate for pain or stiffness in your body until the issue resolves and you no longer need to use them.

Which yoga poses can help neck and shoulder pain?

Fortunately, there are some really simple movements you can try that can help to elevate pain, you’ll find lots of suggestions in the neck and shoulder video course.  Or you can try five simple stretches for your shoulders in the free handout below.

How often should I practice yoga stretches?

For most people, I’d suggest doing each stretch a minimum of four times and repeating them a few times a day.  When the pain isn’t as bad, don’t stop doing the practice, try to do some of the stretches once a day.

When’s the best time of day to do my yoga practice?

I’d usually suggest trying to practice a little and often, for example, early morning (about 10-15 minutes after getting out of bed), before lunch and before your evening meal. 

When the pain has decreased you can reduce the practice frequency to once a day, ideally when you feel the most discomfort.  Yes, you did read that right!

If you feel stiffest in the morning, rather than leaving the stretches to when you feel looser it’s better to do them first thing.  This will help you ease the stiffness and reduce tension in your muscles.  If you notice pain midday, particularly if you’ve been in the same position for a while, then it’d be best at lunchtime to help relieve the discomfort ready for an afternoon of work.  Or practising in the evening may help you release stress and tension built up from a hectic day.

Making your yoga practice a habit.

Try to practice at the same time every day, so it becomes a habit.  Bolting yoga on to something else you regularly do, can be a great way to make your new habit stick.

It’s important to be consistent if you stop doing the stretches when you’re feeling better the same issue might arise again.  Try choosing a few of your favourite stretches to practice consistently, rather than following an hour yoga practice once a week. everyday activity. 

The work you put in will pay off in the long run. And don’t believe the “No pain No gain” mantra.  If you’re in a lot of pain when you’re doing the movements, your body will tense leading to more discomfort rather than less.  A good guide is to be aware of working the area without aggravating it, if it feels worse after yoga, you’re pushing your body too far.  With patience, you’ll gradually find you gain more movement and feel a reduction in pain. 

If you’d like to learn more about how yoga can help neck and shoulder pain, watch the trailer for the Yoga Practice Video Course, or read the full course details.

man holding injured shoulder

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