The past year has introduced great changes in how the American workforce has had to radically change day to day activities. At the beginning of March 2020 many workers were expected to be physically present at their office. However, once the viral pandemic set in a large percentage began to work at home. As a practicing chiropractor of 36 years, I have seen how poor ergonomic situations have caused increased neck and lower back pain. This article will discuss changes in how many workers have had to compensate with working at home and how they can improve ergonomics so as to minimize spinal and other mechanical pain.
When the pandemic began many workers were given a laptop computer, internet access and possibly Zoom meeting technology and were expected to do the same job they had previously performed in their offices. I’ve been told by numerous patients that they were sitting on the couch, lying in bed and even sitting on the floor using their laptops. Not surprisingly, these folks soon began to develop spinal neck and back discomfort.
While I am more than happy to help them achieve pain relief through safe, gentle chiropractic care I also stress that it is imperative that they take proactive, preventative measures to keep from developing musculoskeletal pain all together.
I explained that they must, at least, have a chair and a desk. These must be at a proper height so as to sit straight and erectly. If possible, the chair’s back rest should have the ability for slight inclination forward and backward. The computer screen height should be oriented directly in front of the person. A separate keyboard and mouse are preferable to using a laptop’s keyboard and mouse. Ideally these items would fit on an adjustable keyboard and mouse tray.
A sit-stand workstation should be strongly considered. They are not expensive and can readily be purchased from sites on the Internet. Workers should be encouraged to use them liberally. I have found that many people enjoy standing all day to accomplish their tasks. However, even if a person stands only 10% of their workday it will still improve their ergonomic situation.
If a person has to participate in virtual meetings or take telephone calls it is certainly recommended that these be standing and walking opportunities. With a headset and microphone this can easily be accomplished.
While it has been said that there is nothing like the comforts of home, many would consider remote working to be a strong exception. Taking the right steps to create an improved ergonomic situation can make all the difference in the quality of one’s health.