Working from home has become a change most of us are still trying to adapt to. It is time to look at the efficiency of your new working environment, also known as ergonomics. Whether sitting at the dining table, home office desk, or your bed, this change in working position can produce poor work ergonomics resulting in musculoskeletal pain. Having good work from home habits that include proper ergonomics is key to avoiding unwanted aches and pains while navigating the newness of having a home office.
Good posture includes close to 90˚angles of ankles, knees, and hips. Your wrist should not be bent when controlling the mouse. Use a pillow as a comfortable reminder to not lean back. The pillow also provides taken space because the depth of most chairs is too much. Use boxes, baskets, books, etc to bring the screen close to eye level. Anything lower can cause neck and upper back pain, while a screen too high can cause headaches and eye strain. Don’t think perfect posture or many will fail and become uncomfortable quickly resolving to old habits. Think corrected posture for the task at hand. Completing computer work is not the time to restore perfect posture. That can be done in our office at Back to Function with treatment and corrective exercises.
Poor posture includes leaning back in a typical home chair not equipped for office use causing increased load on the lumbar spine. You can feel pressure and pain in the low back as well as the sacroiliac joint and buttocks. With the screen lower than eye level it causes flexion of the neck which can create symptoms in your neck and upper back while the weight of the head increases with further flexion. With your screen not at eye level, your eye gaze is higher or lower than normal causing eye muscle strain which can result in eye fatigue and headaches. Leaning back results in reaching for the mouse. This reach not only causes the elbow to lock for an extended period of time causing elbow, forearm and wrist issues, but the shoulder girdle protracts forward causing asymmetry of the shoulders.
Good work from home habits also include taking frequent breaks. Research shows sitting for longer than 3 hours increases your risk of mortality (death)! I suggest staying hydrated and using bathroom breaks as a time to also stretch and walk, or set an alarm to stand and move around every 30 minutes.
Even with improvements to your home work station, you still might need therapy for aches and pains you’re feeling. Call 310-534-1900 to set up an appointment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Osama, M., Ali, S., Javid Malik, R. (2018). Posture related musculoskeletal discomfort and its association with computer use among university students. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association. 68(4). 639-641.
Patel, A., Maliniak, M., Rees-Punia, E., Matthews, C., Gapstur, S. (2018). Prolonged leisure time spent sitting in relation to cause-specific mortality in a large US cohort. American Journal of Epidemiology. 187(10). 2151-2158.