Increasingly, more people are working from home to stay productive while practicing social distancing. However, some common practices that result from turning your home into an office could be causing pain, especially in the neck, back, hips, legs and hands. Thankfully, these conditions are preventable and treatable, and we’re here to share some tips and ergonomic stretches to make sure you’re feeling your best as you’re working from home.
MAKE SUREYOUR WORKPLACE SUPPORTS YOUR NECK AND BACK
Many people working from home don’t have a dedicated office space, and it’s tempting to work from the couch or bed. While this may seem more comfortable than sitting at a chair and table, it can be harmful for your neck and back.
A good rule to follow is making sure the top of your screen is at eye level when sitting erect, and you are sitting in a chair that gives you some lumbar support. If your chair has no lumbar support, use a small pillow in the natural curve of your lower back to accomplish this. Try to adjust your chair and workstation to allow for the “rule of 90s” (90 degree bend at knee, hip and elbows) to decrease joint and muscle strain. Sitting straight will help prevent neck, shoulder and lower-back strain that can occur from slouching.
INCORPORATE ERGONOMIC STRETCHES INTO YOUR ROUTINE NECK AND BACK
If you are feeling neck pain, try tilting your head from side to side, followed with nodding and gently shaking your head a few times.
To ease back pain, try rolling your shoulders forward and backward, or extending your arms to your sides and squeezing yourshoulder blades together for a few seconds. Stretch your lower back by standing and reaching both arms toward the ceiling, and tilt to the right and left to stretch your sides.
Staying seated for too long can tighten your hips, causing uncomfortable tension. For relief, stand and cross one leg over the other and reach down to touch your bottom knee. Repeat this stretch on the other side.
FEET AND CALVES
If your legs and feet are feeling numb or stiff, a calf stretch can help. Stand tall and place one foot a large step behind the other. Slowly bend your front knee while pushing your back heel into the ground and keeping your back knee straight. Hold for ten seconds and repeat on the other side. To relieve ankle soreness, lift your leg while in a seated position and rotate the foot a few times.
HAND AND WRIST
Working from home is a great opportunity to work on writing projects, but typing on a keyboard or writing on a notepad for long periods of time could cause hand and wrist pain or even produce carpal tunnel syndrome. For some soothing ergonomic stretches, try extending your arms in front of you and gently tilting your wrist to the left and right. Another good stretch is extending one arm and using your other hand to gently flex and extend your fingers.
STAY ACTIVE IF POSSIBLE
Sitting in one position for an extended period of time could cause pain in your legs and especially your hips. We recommend getting up to move around every hour and developing a workout routine, even if it’s as simple as going for a fifteen-minute walk.
GET HELP IF YOU’RE EXPERIENCING PERSISTENT PAIN
If you’ve tried the stretching exercises and tips above and are still experiencing pain, call The Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee at 615.791.2630 or schedule an appointment online with a physician at boneandjointtn.org.