Working from Home

By: Andrew Rathjen, PT

If you have had neck pain, back pain, or shoulder pain in the last six months, you are not alone. COVID-19 has changed the way many of us work. The comforts of working at home can be seen as a positive, but may also have some downside. The term “desk job” now could be coined as, “sofa job” or, “kitchen table job”. The principles of body mechanics are the same, but a bit more structure and thought may need to be built into the day.

A few simple ideas can go a long way. This includes maintaining 90-degree angles with your knees and elbows and ensuring that your feet are on the floor. The top of the computer monitor should be even with your hairline. The monitor also needs to be straight in front of you and not offset to the right or left. Chairs should have a back on them with your back maintaining contact. I admit this is a tough one, but if you don’t, slumping is sure to follow. Another strategy is the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help with eye strain and secondary neck pain and headaches.

Variation becomes the final thought. Our bodies are meant to move. This can be as simple as stepping away from the keyboard for five minutes or going for a walk or alternative cardio break. Sorry, but checking your phone or sending a text does not qualify. It is important to know that any location in the home can suffice for a workspace as long as the following points are observed. Whether your company sees this as the new normal or not, my advice is to treat your body with the respect that it deserves. We may feel that our world is out of control, but your body doesn’t have to be.

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