Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Can Your Body Handle Working From Home?

Across the country, aching backs, necks and shoulders brought on by COVID-19-related lifestyle changes have sent many people to physical therapists — a trend that's still growing in 2021. Can your body handle working from home? 

Working at any computer work station all day takes a toll on the body. Today, companies have sent their workers home from offices, but in most cases, the coveted pieces of ergonomic office furniture - think $1,000 chairs and adjustable standing desks - remain in the empty spaces. Employees continue to work from home in bed, on couches or sitting hunched in front of countertops and tables. And even as we begin to return to more "normal" activities, many companies have already committed to keeping their employees remote through Labor Day 2021.
Complaints of neck, shoulder, and upper back pain are more common as people slump over their computers for hours at a time. Working from home has taken a toll on the bodies of people who simultaneously work and supervise young children learning from home. We are also seeing many people with previous problems that have flared up - aggravated not just by these lifestyle changes, but also the ongoing stress of coping with the pandemic.
Sitting at a desk while using the keyboard for hours on a day to day basis can result in poor circulation to joints and muscles. It also can create an imbalance in strength and flexibility of certain muscles, and lead to muscle strain. These issues can be easily remedied by taking frequent short breaks, or "micro breaks," throughout your day.
  • Get out of your chair several times a day and move around - even for 30 seconds
  • Roll your shoulders backwards
  • Turn your head side to side
  • Stretch out your forearms and your legs
Proper office ergonomics (setting up your office for the work you do) can help maximize your comfort and safety. Use the following guidelines for your work station:
Your chair should have the following:
  • Wheels (5 for better mobility)
  • The ability to twist freely on its base
  • Adjustable height
  • Adjustable arm rests that will allow you to sit close to your desk
  • Lumbar support
  • Seat base that adjusts to a comfortable angle and allows you to sit up straight
The position of the keyboard is critical:
  • The keyboard should be at a height that allows you to have your forearms slightly below a horizontal line—or your elbows at slightly more than a 90-degree angle.
  • You should be able to slide your knees under the keyboard tray or desk.
  • Avoid reaching for the keyboard by extending your arms or raising your shoulders.
  • Try to avoid having the keyboard on top of your desk. That is too high for almost everyone—unless you can raise your seat. The elbow angle is the best test of keyboard position.
The position of your computer monitor is important:
  • The monitor should be directly in front of you.
  • The top of the monitor should be at your eye level, and at a distance where you can see it clearly without squinting, or leaning forward or backward.
  • If you need glasses for reading, you may need to have a special pair for use at your computer to avoid tipping your head backward to see through bifocals or other types of reading glasses.
How can a physical therapist help?
If you are experiencing pain that isn't relieved by making these adjustments to your work station, you should see a physical therapist who can help develop a treatment plan to relieve your pain and improve your mobility. We are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education and prescribed movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment