For the past two years, we have largely adjusted our ways of living around the pandemic that has taken center stage around the world. One of the very first changes to occur was essentially a shut-down. We didn’t go to the office. We didn’t go out to eat. We began living out of our homes to a large degree, which included learning how to transition into a new norm on that front. Now that we’ve adjusted, many people like their work-at-home situation. While the perks of working from home are undeniable, there are also a few ways in which this setup could be causing harm. Here, we point out some of the reasons your work-from-home life may be wrought with back or neck pain, and also what you can do to correct issues that pose a risk of injury.
Thinking of the “old days” when you drove to an office and sat at a desk for several hours a day, you might view your home office as no different. You’ve got a chair. You’ve got a desk (maybe), and you’ve got a computer. Those are the primary details. It is the smaller details that could be hurting your spine. These details include:
- Your seating. Chances are pretty good that when you worked in an office you had a professional office chair. This chair most likely had a high, cushioned back, cushioned seat, and arms. It was most likely adjustable to the height of your desk so your knees were bent at the right angle and your back was properly supported. As cozy as the living room sofa may be, it is not supportive seating for everyday work. The same goes for a dining room chair. This setup lacks nearly all of the support that you need for optimal spinal health.
- Your posture. The posture that you hold when working is paramount to your comfort throughout the day. Going back to the idea of working on the sofa. In this scenario, work is being done on a laptop and, if you’re lucky, a lap desk. Sitting on the couch looking at a laptop, you are probably holding a hunched, head-forward position that is putting stress on your cervical spine and shoulders. It is very unlikely that your lower spine is being supported well. At the end of the day, or well before, you may be rolling your head from side to side in an attempt to work out the tension caused by poor posture. The best gift you can give to your spine is to invest in proper office furniture. Even a small desk with an adjustable chair can help you maintain proper posture throughout your workday.
- Limited movement. If you worked in an office before the pandemic, you may not see much difference in your home work environment. In fact, you may feel freer than you had when you worked in an office. That said, many people who have transitioned into working at home have made subtle changes that have increased the sedentary aspect of their lives. At work, you may have walked to a lunchroom or even left your office building for your lunch hour. At home, you don’t have to go far for lunch. You may not be walking to a fax machine or copier. You are self-sustained in one location, which may be prompting you to move less. Less movement means more stiffness and tension, so in addition to making your physical activity a priority, spend a few minutes every day stretching the back, neck, and other parts of the body.
At Princeton Neurological Surgery, patients receive care from an experienced neurosurgeon who understands the causes and treatments for chronic back and neck pain. To better understand why you are experiencing pain and what you can do about it, contact us at (609) 890-3400.