Hopefully, everyone reading this is staying safe and healthy during this stressful time. If you are among those who are able to work remotely you may have already noticed that your body is started to rebel against quarantine. In the last few days I’ve received a lot of emails and calls from patients that are in pain because of their work-from-home situation.
While I understand not everyone working from home will have access to everything that I recommend, and they may have to make some accommodations based on their own situation, many of these suggestions are customizable to your needs. Please read on for some suggestions on how to stay out of pain (at least physical) while being trapped in the house for who knows how long.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as a substitute for medical or health advice. I cannot diagnose you from my computer at home. If you have symptoms of pain or other issues please see a qualified health practitioner.
- No working on the couch. Ever. Couches, especially modern, deep ones encourage slouching and poor posture. I don’t care how many pillows you have behind your back, get off of the couch!
- No working in bed. Ever. The bed is for two things and two things only. Sleep and pillow forts. Additionally, you don’t want to start associating your place of rest with work and stress. Get out of bed and go find a desk or a table to work on.
- Work on a steady surface of an appropriate height. Kitchen and dining tables are perfect for this. Sitting on the floor (if comfortable, especially on top of a pillow or other cushion) and using a coffee table is still better than sitting on the couch. No couch, no exceptions. Seeing a pattern, here?
- Use a desktop computer instead of a laptop whenever possible. Laptop screens are too low if the keyboard is the appropriate height, or the keyboard is too high if the screen is at the right height. If you’re having pain and sitting at a desk and working on a laptop, try switching to a desktop computer with a separate keyboard and monitor and see if that changes your symptoms.
- Use a separate keyboard with a laptop on top of books or other prop to improve your posture. If you don’t have access to a desktop computer but you have an extra keyboard this is a great compromise.
- Use a standing desk or try making your own using a countertop, boxes or other crates. Find a sturdy surface with enough room for the materials you need to work. It’s that simple. Standing and being more active in general may relieve your aches and pains.
- Change positions! While there are better and worse ways to sit, there is no “perfect posture” that will prevent pain if you stay there for several hours. If you have pets you may have noticed they get up and down 50 times a day. Movement variability is key. Change positions frequently throughout the day.
- Get moving. That stiff achy feeling you get in your shoulders or back is your body’s way of telling you it’s time to move. Take frequent breaks and move your body. Go for a socially-distanced walk. Do some push ups or squats. Try to maintain regular activity which can help boost your mood and keep aches in check.
- Take breaks from marathon sitting before you have pain. If you can keep moving often enough you may be able to push your pain symptoms back before they even occur.
- Drink more water. Dehydration can increase risk for muscle cramps and spasms. Getting up to get more water and to use the bathroom are both good excuses to move more.
These strategies work for the majority of people with minor aches and pains due to prolonged sitting, especially in aggravating positions. Play around with different positions, computer setups, and break schedules and see what works best for you. If I can’t get away with working on the couch, neither can you!
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email or give our office a call. We are still answering the phones! Stay well and take care of each other.