STRUGGLING TO WORK FROM HOME?

DEVELOPING BACK AND NECK PAIN?

STRESSED AND TENSE?

So, the majority of us are working from home. Some are scrunched up on the sofa, some on the kitchen table and maybe some of you are like me and having to makeshift a desk out of a side table, some books and a bit of Blue Tack!! Now obviously, there are some massive perks to this new ‘working from home’ business. We can simply role out of bed and work in our PJs, no daily fight to commute and we are surrounded by our home comforts. But unless this is a regular thing for you and you have the perfect ergonomic work environment designed for you at home our bodies are going to be put under new stresses and our backs, necks and other joints are likely to start hurting!

So here are some top tips for you to consider as you start settling into your home workstation:

1: SPEND A LITTLE TIME SETTING UP THE RIGHT WORKSTATION FOR YOU

Now there may be some restrictions at home. Some of you may be lucky enough to have your own office space, some may have the funds to order various pieces of equipment. Whatever you do see if you can position things as close to the following as possible:

  • Position your keyboard: 1 or 2 inches above your thighs, which can be achieved either by lowering your desk or by using a keyboard tray.
  • Angle your seat: By adding a slight forward tilt to your seat or propping yourself with a chair support or pillows. This will encourage a more upright spine.
  • Lumbar support: This will help keep a natural curve to your lower back. In simple terms stick a pillow behind you so you can sit back and relax into the support behind you. Or if you want to spend a little money have a look for some lumbar supports on- line. You may need to try a few before you find one that best fits you.
  • Distance from the screen: Stretch your arms out in front of you and you should just be able to touch the screen. If using multiple screens, try to place the one you use most in a more central position.
  • Screen height: Align the top of your monitor to your eye level. This is because our natural gaze is in fact slightly down, not straight ahead. Close your eyes, open them and look straight ahead, now see where the top of the monitor is and adjust as need be.
  • In addition: Consider a document holder if you are having to read and type a lot and unless you use it frequently, consider using a keyboard without the numeric keypad as this will reduce activity in your mouse-arm.

2: BREAK IT UP

Putting your body in any position for a prolonged period of time is always going to be a problem and for your lower back this is particularly true when it comes to sitting at your desk. So, break it up!!! My suggestion here is to aim to get up at least every hour and just have a short walk around the house, even just a trip to the kettle or a walk around the garden. If you are experiencing high pain levels when sitting at your desk, subject to advice from a practitioner, you may want to cut this down to every 30 minutes.

3: EXERCISES TO EASE STIFFNESS

4: SWITCH OFF

Take a bit of time to calm your mind and switch off your thoughts. Over thinking, stress and anxiety all contribute to increased tension in the body. Do not underestimate the link between your thoughts and emotions and the physical reactions in your body.

Take some time to notice your body and what it might be telling you:

  • Is it tense? Tired?
  • Are your muscles relaxed or tight?
  • Has there been any change in your sleep or appetite?
  • Do you have enough energy to do what you need to do each day?

Once you have tuned into your physical sensations, you can use this information in two ways:

  1. To help you see the emotions that you are experiencing;
  2. To stop cycles by trying to change the physical sensations.

Apps such as Headspace and Calm are all incredibly useful to help you become more present in the moment and you can set sessions for as little as 1-3 minutes a few times a day to help you calm your mind and body and in turn, ease pain.

SO IN SUMMARY……….

  • Taking time to set up a good workstation is important to help prevent and ease various joint pain when working.
  • Take regular breaks and do exercise to keep your joints moving through range and ease stiffness.
  • Don’t forget to spend time on your mind. Calming the mind will ease tension in your body.
Davina Sherwood
Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist