It has been more than five months since the pandemic started forcing people to work remotely. By the end of June, it was estimated that 42% of the labor force in the United States is now working from home. For the first few months of the outbreak, it seemed like the setup was only temporary, but it seems that work-from-home setups are going to be part of our reality, at least for the foreseeable future, as well as increasing cases of back pain.
What many are only beginning to realize is that being stuck at home has severely affected their physical movement. At a conventional office, you are either sitting upright and at (mostly) attention at a desk or at a conference table. While making your work commute to and from work, you are burning calories by biking, taking public transportation, or walking from your parking garage to your office building.
So even without realizing it, you are stretching and exercising many muscle groups throughout the day. Almost overnight, people went from being active and energetic to nearly lazy and sluggish. All while the mental load increased.
If you are experiencing all sorts of physical pain that you never had before, you could attribute it to the lethargy of working from home.
To combat this, you can try to mimic the level of activity you had pre-pandemic by creating a safe and ergonomic space for you to work. If you want some ideas to reduce the likelihood of body aches, muscle and back pains, and increase your physical wellbeing while working from home, here are a few tips:
Get a step counter
If you have a wearable device that measures the number of steps you take, it will be very convenient to monitor how much physical movement you are getting in a day. If you don’t, use your smartphone or a downloadable app to track some of your activity, though you may need to carry it around the house with you.
Following your steps encourages you to get moving, to walk around, take a short stroll around the block, or exercise to get your heart pumping and muscles moving.
Set up a workstation
It sounds simple enough, but most people probably aren’t buying desks because they think the situation is temporary. Working from home is going to be around for some time, so you should prepare a dedicated space for yourself to work comfortably for long periods. Place it in an area of your house that receives a lot of natural light. This is to prevent eye strain and to tune your body to the rhythm of the day.
Determine a good ergonomic position for your computer screen to minimize back pain
While you can buy a pre-fabricated desk, you should take steps to customize it to your height and stature. The ideal elevation for your screen should be directly at eye level. Instead of looking down at your screen, raise it up so you can look at it horizontally and directly in front of you, with your head and spine in a neutral position. Lifting up your screen to meet your eyes can reduce the strain on your spine. Even tilting your head down by 15 or 20-degrees can make it feel like it weighs more than it actually does.
Keep your arms at a right angle
While working at your desk, your chair’s height should be set at a level where you can place your arms at a 90-degree angle. Find the sweet spot by testing out different heights or examining our position with a camera or mirror. If you are working with a laptop and you need to raise your screen, use a wireless keyboard to maintain the right angle position.
This will help to reduce neck pain.
Pad your seat
Sitting for long periods of time can strain your tailbone as well as your spine. If you don’t have a cushioned seat for a desk chair, pad your existing one with thick yet firm cushion. It can alleviate pressure on your spine and reduce the likelihood of lower back pain. Stand up every fifteen minutes to stretch your legs and shake your arms for a few minutes, then sit down and resume work.
Not every home is conducive to working. Many people don’t have dedicated desks and ergonomic chairs. Some people tend to work while in bed, slouched over their screens or laying face-forward, looking up.
In any other circumstance, it might seem like a perfectly comfortable position. However, if you are working eight hours a day crouched over your laptop, you create the perfect environment for your body to feel some severe aches and pains.
Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from bed. Make a deliberate effort to prepare a workstation for yourself and be mindful of your daily physical activity. Maintaining a good posture and keeping active will help you alleviate stress and reduce your mental fatigue.
Are you feeling all sorts of back pain from your work-from-home setup? Visit a chiropractor in Charlotte, NC, who can help relieve your muscle aches and maintain your overall wellness. Call us today to set an appointment!