Why Working from Home Hurts
It’s not just you. The rest of the country’s feeling it too. We all thought working-from-home would last a few weeks. But several months in, and the small discomforts you felt when you started working from home have become full-on musculoskeletal pains. One day it’s a simple crick in the neck, and soon after it becomes something you need professional help with. While social interaction and stable connectivity are valid things people look for while working remotely, many are also missing their designated chairs for office work. This is not vanity nor extravagance – it’s a genuine health concern.
Chiropractors confirm this. In fact, the New York Times says 92% of chiropractors recently surveyed by the American Chiropractic Association reported a spike in neck and back pain among patients since massive work-from-home arrangements were announced. Caught unprepared, many makeshift home offices today were haphazardly put together as a short-term solution to staying home and helping flatten the curve. Not many households have an ergonomic office chair or a desk of appropriate height which align with ergonomics best practices applied in standard work environments. Alarmingly, these pains sustained from working on your couch, bed, or kitchen counter can develop into life-long injuries when not given proper attention.
The article cites three major areas for concern:
First, the laptop. Today’s laptops give workers almost the same computing capacity of desktop units, with the added benefit of mobility. But laptops were designed to be used for a few hours at a time, for mobile warriors or frequent flyers to get work done. Because of the form factor of laptops and how they’re now being used the entire day, workers are adjusting by looking down to see their screens, or if the laptop is elevated, raising their hands to type. Either way, both options are far from ideal. “Chronic looking down puts us in a forward head position that loads pressure on the discs and joints of the spine,” says Dr. Karen Erickson, a renowned chiropractor who holds practice in Manhattan. “It also causes muscle imbalance in the neck.”
Another issue? Your chair. Ergonomics experts say you’re right to be missing your desk chair. Majority of those working from home without an official chair are likely sitting on a chair with the wrong height. Forced to adapt, the body will hunch over instead of staying in a neutral position – the beginnings of serious back pain. The ideal sitting position will have your ears over your shoulders which in turn should be over your hips. “Hips slightly higher than the knees, arms relaxed at your side, neck relaxed and straight, forearms parallel to the ground, feet resting on the floor,” describes Dr. Erickson.
Then there’s movement. The type and amount of work has not changed for most of the American workforce, but how we work has. The commute to work, or the short walk to get coffee or lunch – those breaks allowed us to move around and stretch our muscles. These days, it’s not uncommon to just sit all day.
But the human body is not designed to stay in just one position for long periods of time. In fact, even with the most ergonomic office desk and chair set-up in the office or at home, workers are bound to start experiencing pain if they don’t give themselves micro-breaks to stretch and move throughout the day. The solution? Take small breaks every half hour or so and give yourself time to walk around, stretch. Not only will this be good for your body, it’s good exercise for emotional and mental wellbeing.
Investing in ergonomic furniture to upgrade your work-from-home need not always cost an arm and a leg. Some fixes are simple – such as raising your laptop with the help of a riser or stack of books to just below eye level. Others, like a proper office chair, require some investment and research. Specializing in ergonomic chairs, we know for example, that there are no universal settings for comfort and ergonomics. The principles of ergonomics, after all, work best when tailor-fit to each body. The key is to find a chair that can be adjusted for different heights, needs, and body types.
The therapeutic Ergoal™ One chair is designed to adjust your body to its natural ergonomic position. With its built-in, unique Lumbar Support, the posture-correcting chair provides superior comfort to the entire spine, keeping you pain-free even as you work for long periods of time.