Because many remote workers found themselves working from home quite suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they may not have taken the time to properly set up their work environment to support their physical health.
This has unfortunately led to an increase in musculoskeletal pains such as joint pain, neck pain, and chronic back pain.
If you are working from home and find yourself suffering from muscle pain – and are looking for pain relief – we have good news!
Simply changing your work environment can have a huge impact on addressing chronic pain.
Here are ways you can avoid aches and pain while working from home:
Working From Home – Common Aches and Pains
When you find yourself remaining stationary throughout the day, whether at the kitchen table or in your office chair, your body is going to experience common aches and pains.
These issues may begin as annoyances but, if not addressed, can become long-term health issues.
Here are some common aches and pains you should watch out for:
The most common source of pain while working from home is backache. Our bodies were not made to sit for 8-10 hours and doing so tends to lead to poor posture.
Learning forward and slumping places stress on your mid and lower back and can lead to pain in those areas.
As you are working from home, you may find yourself thrusting your head toward your computer screen, which can lead to neck pain as well as shoulder pain.
When you type on a keyboard and use a mouse all day, these repetitive movements can lead to wrist pain and tenderness.
What is Ergonomics?
If you have ever worked in an office, you’ve probably heard the term “ergonomic” thrown around. This realm of science refers to arranging a workplace to accommodate the user’s needs and your home is no exception.
Ergonomics focuses on increasing efficiency and productivity while reducing discomfort and injury. With the use of computers in the workforce steadily increasing, ergonomics works to improve the use of desks, chairs, and computers to create a healthier workspace.
The science of ergonomics also takes into account the need to move throughout the day.
Knowing this, let’s look at what you can do to decrease aches and pains while you are working from home:
How to Avoid Aches and Pains
1. Use a Chair With Adequate Support
Because you are likely sitting in your chair for extended periods, it’s important to have a chair with adequate back support and armrests that leaves enough room for your legs to rest under your desk.
Purchasing an ergonomic chair will ensure you have this proper support.
While sitting in your chair, you should have your feet flat on the floor. If this is not possible, consider placing a stool or box on the floor.
Your knees and hips should be kept at 90-degree angles while you maintain a neutral spine. This position allows your neck and back to relax and helps prevent pain and soreness.
2. Invest in an Ergonomic Keyboard
If you’re using a computer while you work from home, you are using a keyboard and mouse as well. While these accessories may seem small and harmless, they can lead to wrist pain if not used correctly.
When you are typing, keep your arms at level with your desk to maintain a neutral wrist position. This will help alleviate strain and prevent issues such as carpal tunnel compression.
Ergonomic keyboards are designed with wrist pads that allow your hands to relax while you are typing.
You should also keep your mouse close to the keyboard to avoid awkward shoulder movements and consider an ergonomic mouse pad that offers wrist support as well.
3. Position Your Computer Properly
Keeping your laptop at eye level will prevent hunching with your head pointed downward. This stooped posture can lead to upper back strain as well as headaches and migraines.
You can use a box to raise your computer or purchase a laptop stand. The important thing is to make sure you can look straight ahead to your monitor while keeping your keyboard and mouse in the aforementioned positions.
While you are setting up your monitor at a comfortable height, tilt it 90 degrees away from the window in order to cut down on glare.
Overall, positioning your computer properly will reduce stress on your shoulders and back.
4. Take Short and Frequent Breaks
You should try to take a short break every 30 minutes during your workday. You don’t have to do anything strenuous – try a simple exercise such as stretching, walking around the block, or even climbing up and down a flight of stairs.
Ensuring that you are moving regularly during the day will help your blood flow to sore joints and muscles which helps to reduce pain and stiffness.
Again, you don’t have to engage in a full aerobic session during these breaks. Even getting up to use the washroom, filling your water bottle, or brewing another cup of coffee is enough to avoid aches and pains while working from home.
5. Switch Tasks Frequently
Engaging in the same tasks for prolonged periods increases your susceptibility to repetitive movement injuries and muscle fatigue.
For instance, if you are constantly typing on your keyboard, this increases your risk of injuring your wrists.
During the day, switch up your tasks as frequently as you can such as taking a break from your computer to make a phone call (and stand while you are doing so!).
Creating a more dynamic work environment during the day ensures that you are activating different muscles groups while allowing tired muscles a chance to rest.
Working From Home Can Be a Literal Pain
If you are still experiencing pain while working from home, it may be time to visit a physiotherapist.
At https://www.greymethod.ca/physiotherapy-services/, their team of physiotherapists can optimize your work-from-home setup as well as address your musculoskeletal pains to help improve your health and well-being.