First thing’s first. Your work pain doesn’t need to translate to back pain.
Home working has many perks. No commuting, more flexibility and no travel costs. However, from a health care perspective with the surge in home working came the surge in admissions with people complaining of the same type of symptoms over and over - a combination of headache, neck and shoulder complaints.
Now, let’s not get confused – desks, computer and chronic pain is not a new phenomenon. It’s a long-standing complication associated with poor posture from the overuse of computers. What is new, is that home workers often do not have the money, time or knowledge to invest in an optimal home working set up. Even two years post the first Covid19 lockdown people are working in sub-par conditions for their health – not to mention the fact that most home workers have less breaks and work longer hours than their in-office counterparts.
So, how can we make the ‘norm’ of home working become more manageable, and less painful? We can start with identifying some common mistakes that can be easily rectified to minimise those aches and pains whilst you’re sat at your desk. Just to note - this advice isn’t just confined to home working, it’s for all our hard desk workers out there, home workers or not.
1. Firstly, your monitor is probably positioned too low
So, what is the optimum position? Well, the top of your monitor should be level with your eyes, so your eye-line natural falls into the centre of the screen. If you use a laptop, a stand is an ideal way to achieve this better posture. We highly recommend using a detachable keyboard and mouse with your laptop to ensure you are not shrugging and holding tension through your shoulders.
Many muscles attach onto your spine to effectively support and balance your body weight. If your screen is placed too low, your natural position is for your neck, shoulders and upper back to round forwards. This causes your muscles to work harder than necessary and therefore they fatigue at a quicker rate, producing those common aches and pains throughout your working day.
2. You aren’t standing up enough
We’re sorry about this one, but it’s likely true! Taking short breaks little and often is a good way to neutralise the effects of sitting for long periods. We recommend standing for 10 minutes every hour, instead of 20 minutes every 2 hours. If you’re on copious calls and really struggle to get the standing time in, why don’t you look at investing in an adjustable standing desk to get those extra minutes of being on your feet without it being too disruptive to your working day.
On average working Brits spend 9.5 hours per day being sedentary, which is a worrying statistic considering humans are not built for sitting, especially for long periods. From blood flow to our bone structure, we are designed to weight bear and move frequently, however the modern-day working lifestyle does not always accommodate this.
3. You balance your phone between your neck and your shoulder when on a call
Like most things that are bad for us, we can get away with them if we do them once in a blue moon. However, doing this move on the regular means your neck is being laterally bent to one side. You'll likely be shrugging your shoulder to keep the phone in place, and it can easily become a repetitive strain injury if this position becomes a daily occurrence. Wearing a headset is a simple way to keep your neck in a neutral position and reduce the stress placed on the surrounding muscles and joints.
Over time, the muscles in your neck, shoulder and upper back shorten on one side and stretch and lengthen on the opposing side. This causes an imbalance, which can result in headaches, neck and arm pain.
Are you struggling with repetitive strain from home working and feel like these tips and tricks - whilst useful - aren't making a huge amount of difference? Give us a call today for a free consultation and we can analyse whether you need further advise.