Due to the current pandemic, most non-essential employees have been working from home to stay safe. However, while work from home has been a welcome adjustment for many who are fed up with long commutes, this new normal has posed some problems as well.
One of the biggest issues with working from home is the lack of physical movement. Without a commute, walk to the office or bustling between meetings, people have become much more sedentary. While there are clear health implications as a result of this non-movement, as even light walking during the day is beneficial to your health, the less obvious consequence is muscle strain and injury.
You may be thinking: “How can I possibly hurt my muscles if I’m barely even using them?”
The answer: not moving your muscles and hunching over a computer will cause them to tighten up and sometimes lock in place.
To avoid this, we’ve come up with three tips for you to keep in mind as you are working from home to avoid a painful strain injury.
When you were in the office, it was probably always on your mind to stand up straight and “walk tall” to impress your boss, colleagues and clients. How you hold yourself when moving around is known as dynamic posture, and this is typically what people think of when they hear the word “posture.”
However, static posture is just as important — however, it’s often overlooked. Static posture is how you hold yourself while remaining still, such as when you’re sitting. As you are working from home, chances are the majority of your workday is spent in a desk chair, hunched over a computer or laptop. It may not feel like it, but incorrect posture while sitting at your desk can lead to a sore back, shoulder and neck muscles.
To ensure your static posture is not hurting you during the day, it’s important to equip yourself with a desk chair that has proper lumbar support. The chair should also be well-padded to keep you upright. You may also want to consider a footrest under your desk to make your thighs and hips parallel to the floor. All of these changes to your office setup will help you keep your back straight and shoulders back.
You may have heard the term “ergonomic” thrown around, but you maybe didn’t understand exactly what it meant.
In a nutshell, ergonomic refers to the comfort of a person’s workspace to maximize efficiency and reduce discomfort. As you’ve been setting up your home office, turning the kitchen counter into a makeshift desk probably hasn’t been the most comfortable option. This is because the ergonomics aren’t there.
The most important piece of home office furniture is your desk — which is why it is vital to purchase an ergonomic desk. A desk of this nature will typically be adjustable, allowing you to position the height at the most comfortable level for yourself. Ergonomic desks also provide the feature to raise the desk completely, in case you want to stand while you work and take a break from sitting.
Other features of an ergonomic work environment include a well-positioned computer screen, support for your wrists as you type and a keyboard that matches the curves of your hands.
The final tip that should ensure you prevent strain injury or muscle soreness is scheduling an appointment with a physiotherapist. A trained healthcare professional typically offers services that offer pain relief and overall wellness solutions.
From gentle manipulations of the muscle to electrical stimulation, a physiotherapist will assess you and develop a personalized treatment plan tailored for your needs. They will also recommend certain exercises to do at home that can help you prevent injury in the future — especially if you are sitting for most of the day.
Above all, it is important to move whenever possible — as the human body was not designed to sit for 8 hours a day!
With these three tips, you should be able to tweak your home office setup and prevent strain or injury in the future. From good posture and ergonomics to a consultation with a physiotherapist, there are plenty of options available to make working from home more comfortable.
If you’re considering starting treatment with a certified physiotherapist, our offices at Impact Physio and Sport Clinic in Beaumont, AB are open! Give us a call at (587) 410-4809 , or visit our website to schedule an appointment.