Working From Home Pain

By Western Berks Physical Therapy on May 17th, 2021

Working From Home Pain

Working From Home: A Real Pain

If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic and are experiencing new body aches and pains, it could be caused by your home office set-up. With the sudden shift to remote work and school, many Americans have had to quickly create a home office using whatever space they had available. For some, this means using a kitchen table, a couch, or a bed as their workspace.

While most offices have chairs and desks that are designed to prevent work-related back and neck strain, many home office set ups are less than ideal. Poor posture, sitting too long, not having a supportive chair and looking down at a computer screen put physical stress on your body. In addition, many people aren’t getting enough regular exercise, which leads to deconditioning and increases the risk of back pain.

Proper posture and positioning are the first steps to relieving pain caused by working from home. To make the most out of your home office, follow these tips to help position yourself properly:

  • Choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest. At the proper chair height, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Adjust the armrests so your arms gently rest on them with your shoulders relaxed.
  • Make sure your back is supported and not being strained. Use a small lumbar pillow or towel roll if purchasing an ergonomically correct office chair isn’t in your budget.
  • Keep work items close to your body to minimize reaching. Stand up to reach anything that can’t be comfortably reached while sitting.
  • Place your mouse within easy reach and on the same surface as your keyboard. While typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows.
  • Place your computer screen directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches for more comfortable viewing.

After positioning yourself properly, it’s time to start developing healthy work habits. Working for long periods of time while sitting comes with real consequences. Prolonged sitting forces your spine’s natural “S” curve into a “C” curve, which puts more stress on your muscles, ligaments, discs and tissue. To combat this, avoid working for long periods without a break. Aim to get up and move every 45 minutes, even if it’s just to walk around the room.

There are simple exercises you can do at home during your workday to improve your posture and to strengthen your back and core. Below are a few examples of exercises to perform during your work breaks:

Shoulder circles:
Let your arms hang by your sides and roll your shoulders behind you in a circular motion. After a few reps, change direction. This exercise will help relieve stress while improving movement and flexibility in your shoulders.

Neck Side Bends:
Starting with your head centered, tilt your head to the right, bringing your ear close to your shoulder. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Bring your head back to center, and then tilt to the left, again holding 10-15 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Squats:
Stand in a wide stance and slowly squat by bending your knees while keeping your torso erect. Do not lean forward. Keep squatting until your hip joint is parallel with your knees. Then, push through your heels to slowly stand up to you starting position.

There are many exercise options available, but knowing which ones are right for you is crucial to reducing pain and preventing it from reoccurring. Our therapists are movement experts that can help design an exercise program specific to relieving your work-related pain. In addition, we can help you make the most out of your home office setup by providing consultation on proper equipment and body position while working. Call 610-589-2263 or click the button below to make your appointment today!

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