I have been seeing more and more patients in the clinic due to pain resulting from a troublesome work from home setup. Often, we are seeing neck and/or low back pain that results from prolonged working in a position that was supposed to be temporary! We all thought that being out of the office would be over after a month or two, but now that we are approaching the 6-month mark, it is time to start thinking about long-term solutions.
Let’s take a look at an “ideal” work posture:
You will notice that I put the word ideal in quotations above. Any time we start talking about posture, we should be careful to not become too rigid in our posture-thinking. There is no one perfect posture, whether sitting or standing, and trying to force your body into one can cause more problems than it solves. So, remember that these are some basic guidelines, and they may need to be tweaked for your unique situation.
In the picture above, we see that this person is sitting upright in a supportive chair (no barstools!), with feet flat on the ground, knees bent roughly 90 degrees, arms bent to 90 degrees with no shoulder shrugging or slouching, and eyes looking straight ahead. All too often, most people get each part correct except for the fact they are working on a laptop. Inevitably, this causes our gaze to shift downward which will cause neck issues if this posture is sustained for some time.
But how are we to fix this issue? Well, for starters you can elevate your laptop onto a stand or shelf and use a Bluetooth keyboard and/or mouse to navigate. This will bring your gaze upward and reduce the muscular strain on your neck and thoracic spine. This is likely the most important change you can make if you are having neck pain while working.
In regard to low back pain, make sure the chair you are sitting in allows you to sit up straight with feet on the floor. I don’t need you to run out and buy the most expensive chair possible, just make sure that you aren’t on a barstool or chaise lounge.
On top of your overall setup, it is important to change your position frequently throughout the day. If you have the ability to use a standing desk, alternating back and forth every 30-45 minutes is a great option. Remember, even if you have “perfect” posture at your desk, if you sit there for long enough without moving, you will have pain. If you do not have the option of a standing desk, just get up and walk around every 30-45 minutes. Mobility is the goal!
Now that it seems our new WFH reality is going to stick around for a while, it is time to start planning for the future. Spending some money now to get a good setup will save you time, money, and frustration in the future!
Already having pain from your WFH setup? Reach out to us today for help.
Thanks for reading!