How Inactivity Can Cause Chronic Pain (and How to Relieve it)
Updated: Feb 8
2020 (and now 2021) has been the year for staying indoors, working from the comfort of your home, and chronic back pain? While COVID-19 and quarantine have resulted in many stressors and discomforts, did you know that chronic pain is also on the rise as a direct result of inactivity due to quarantine?
If you’ve been dealing with pain in your back, neck, or shoulders within the past year, you’re not alone. Read on to learn why inactivity can cause chronic pain, how to treat it at home, and more.
The relationship between pain and inactivity
Throughout the years, there have been many studies to understand the link between inactivity and chronic pain. In the most basic sense, when we don’t move our bodies around often enough, it can lead to the deterioration of certain bodily functions such as the muscles, skeleton, gastrointestinal system, and even the nervous system. With that being said, most of these effects come months and years after not being active enough so you don’t have to worry about your muscles breaking down after one week of not exercising!
So, then what is the reason for your back and neck pain during quarantine this past year? It’s essentially the same idea, but just a little less scary! The human body was made for movement so when we become inactive, muscles can start to weaken, joints stiffen, and people who suffer from arthritis can start to feel the painful effects more. What makes pain caused by inactivity difficult is that to resolve it, you have to stay active but being in pain can make people not want to move! It’s a cycle that is hard to beat (especially during quarantine) but there are ways to lessen pain and even eliminate it altogether!
How to relieve pain caused by inactivity at home
Now that you know why your back is hurting, here are some tips on how to relieve that pain, right from home!
· Most people are working from home, so it’s very important that your screen is eye level. Many of us are looking at small laptops all day which causes us to strain our necks and hunch over. If this sounds like you, purchase a laptop stand or stack up some books to rest your computer on. Both your neck and shoulders will thank you for this!
· If you’re sitting at a desk or countertop while you work from home all day, try working from different areas of your home and stand up as much as possible! Sitting for an extended period of time can cause discomfort in your back and legs so try switching up your routine and move your computer to a taller piece of furniture such as a dresser or bookshelf. If you really want to go all out, you can even invest in a desk for your home office that converts from a standard desk to a standing desk! The most important thing is making sure that your screen is eye level so that you don’t strain your neck or shoulders.
· Try and stay as active as possible! It may be easier said than done, but throughout the workday, walk around your house for ten minutes at a time or use your lunch break to get outside for a walk or do a quick exercise routine. And don’t just focus on strengthening your back muscles! Your core is just as important to exercise because it keeps your back flexible and strengthens your muscles to protect the spine.
· If you don’t have the time or energy to exercise, try doing a set of back stretches for a few minutes during your day. This will not only feel good in alleviating back pain, but it will also get rid of that tension and stiffness in your muscles.
· Stay aware of how you’re sitting when you’re at your desk or working from a chair. It can be easy to fall into a slump (literally) and hunch over your desk or countertop. Don’t sit from a bed or couch because they do not offer back support and can lead to pain after a few hours. When you’re sitting, make sure that your knees are in line with your hips. If you feel like your lower spine or butt starts to hurt after a little while of sitting in your chair, sit on a cushion to soften the pressure.
· Speaking of softening the pressure, it’s not uncommon to deal with lumbar spine pain while sitting for an extended period of time. To ease this pressure, place a pillow on your lower back. This will not only alleviate that pressure and pain in your back, but it will also stop it from spreading to your shoulders and neck.
· The most important thing you can do is listen to your body. If you feel pain after sitting for a prolonged period of time, then get up and stand for a while. If the pain starts when you’re standing, take a seat. Make sure to pay attention to how you’re feeling and what your symptoms are in different positions. It doesn’t hurt to have a few different designated workstations around your house so that you can always switch it up!
If you’re still dealing with pain after these tips, amazing at-home relief options are the SINSINPAS Arex Instant Pain Relief Patches! These pain-relieving patches offer both a cooling and heating effect to provide long-lasting relief for aches and pains in the muscles and joints. They’re made with a durable, flexible fabric so they can be worn during long workdays at your desk or exercises at your home gym! The best part? They’re easy to apply and mess-free so you can pop one on and forget about it.
Always remember that even though pain is common during quarantine, if it’s affecting your quality of life, make sure to see a doctor. After all, pain isn’t something that we need to deal with on our own!