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Work from home causing neck pain and stiffness – How Ayurveda can help?

A common health issue these days is simultaneous pain in the neck and shoulder. It is usually the result of strain and sprain. But during this pandemic, another term which is very relevant that causes neck and shoulder pain is text neck syndrome. Text neck syndrome is commonly used to refer to the pain you experience in your neck after a long day’s work on the laptop or after prolonged sessions on mobile phones, kindles and tabs. Today’s sedentary lifestyle puts your poor neck through a lot of stress – too much typing and texting and stretching your neck muscles as you bend your heads down when on these devices. This condition used to be common only in age group of 20 to 35 years, but it is affecting all age groups including children because of the lifestyle changes due to the pandemic. Now online classes for children are also causing muscle stress at such young age. Since people are increasingly adopting sedentary lifestyles compromising on their exercise and outdoor timings to spend more time online, text neck syndrome is a common issue now.

According to studies, even a 15° tilt of the neck to look down at the laptop screen doubles the amount of force exerted on our necks to hold up the head. If you place your laptop on your lap, that force can be 3 times as great compared to a straight neck

The common way of representations is.

  • Pain in the neck, radiating to the shoulders and upper back
  • Stiffness and tightening neck and shoulder nerves and muscles
  • Numbness of fingers
  • Headache

As per Ayurveda this is attributed to Vata and Ama. Overstrain or repetitive use will increase Vatha dosha and in turn pain. Due to lack of activities, Ama or toxins may accumulate in the area and it will create heaviness or stiffness in the area.

If not taken care of at the very beginning, it will end up in chronic issues. Chronic shoulder pain often stems from prolonged, repetitive, or awkward movements. This type of pain is sometimes referred to as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or cumulative trauma disorder.

Treatment includes firstly relaxing the overstrained muscles and secondly avoiding the causes that creates muscle strain.

To relax the neck muscle due to overstrain, the best way is a medicated oil massage. But if you have severe pain then direct massage may cause harm. In those scenarios, dry potli massage should be used to remove any inflammation and then use oil to relax the muscles. Commonly used treatments are

Lepana – Application of medicated pastes on the neck region

Abhyanga – Ayurvedic massage

Swedana treatments like Poultice prepared with powders, leaves etc

Greeva vasti – Retaining medicated oil in the neck

Nasya- medicated nasal drops.

A detailed consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor can help you choose the right treatment for any neck pain, depending on the state and stage of disease. Internal medicines may be required in case of inflammation and chronic pain.

Along with the treatments, posture correction and muscle strengthening exercises will prevent further pain and stiffness.

Sit correctly

  • shoulders should be relaxed
  • lower back should be supported
  • elbows should be supported and close to your body
  •  wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms.

Have a comfortable work space

Your desk should be level with your elbows while you’re seated. If it’s too high, it can cause shoulder fatigue. Use adjustable keyboard and mouse tray. The top of your screen should be just below your eye level. Keep your monitor and keyboard cantered in front of you.

Take regular breaks and walks

Lack of movement will reduce the circulation and result in accumulation of toxins. Hence take a break from screen every 1 hour for 5 minutes. Take a walk and stretch your muscles.

Stretching exercises

Neck muscle relaxer – Look straight ahead. Now look down at the floor for a few seconds and then up at the ceiling for a few seconds.

Now turn your head very slowly to the right as f       ar as you can. Hold for 3 seconds. Return your head to the centre and maintain this position for 3 seconds.

Chin Tuck – Sit up straight in a chair with your shoulders back. Next, pull your chin back toward your neck

Overhead Shoulder Stretch

  • Sit upright with your chest out and your shoulders back.
  • Bring one arm straight overhead and bend it at the elbow.
  • Grab your bent elbow with the other hand and gently pull it behind your head.
  • Hold the position for ten seconds.
  • Relax and return to starting position.
  • Do the same for the other arm

This is a great exercise to reduce stress in your neck, shoulders, and upper back. It also encourages the body to return to its natural alignment which is a must if you have poor posture

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