In the wake of the corona-virus outbreak, anybody who could do their jobs remotely, transitioned to telecommuting to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While these measures will help decrease the effect of the pandemic, working from home comes with its own challenges.
If you were also unceremoniously chucked into the work from home realm without any planning, you may be contending with a less-than-ideal office setup without ergonomic chairs, workstations, computer monitors and other such tools. Relying upon a laptop screen, sitting too long, slouching, working with the wrong posture can put physical strain on your body that you may not notice immediately but will definitely leave you holding your neck from the pain of staring down at your laptop at the end of the day.
If you have been complaining of aches and pains ever since you started working from home, here is how to decipher your body’s cue and address them:
Your Neck And Shoulders Hurt All The Time
If you have suddenly noticed a constant ache in your shoulders and neck, your posture and where you work at home might be the culprit. If your monitor or screen is below your eye level, you will need to flex your neck and your head forward and down, which results in a less than ideal posture.
However, if your screen is placed at eye level, you will naturally rest your head in the back of the chair and relax. If your shoulders and neck are sending you warning pangs, it is time to scrutinize your work screen to determine the cause of your neck and shoulder discomfort. The best way is to position your monitor or laptop at eye level so that your neck and shoulders can rest in a neutral position. Also, keep all frequently used objects handy, so that you can just reach out for them without unnecessarily straining your body.
Since we are all working from home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should seriously think about investing in a few ergonomic upgrades. Even if your pocket doesn’t allow enhancements, you can at least position your monitor on a desk or table that is preferably at elbow height. Also, instead of sitting rigidly in one position for protracted periods, Change locations and positions frequently to allow blood circulation.
You Experience Eye Fatigue
The glare of the computer or laptop screen can put a strain on your eyes when used for long periods. This is something we call the “digital eye strain”, which is accompanied by neck and shoulder pain, dry eyes, blurred vision, and frequent headaches. Unless you take periodic breaks from your screen, you will inevitably fall prey to this condition.
The only solution is to take frequent breaks from screen time and seek natural light whenever possible. To give your eyes a break, the American Optometric Association suggest their 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a twenty second break from your screen to view something 20 feet away. If you are working from home, try to work somewhere that gets ample natural lighting, preferably a window that is at a 90-degree angle to your screen. This does wonders for your eyes as compared to artificial light.
You Feel A Tightness In Your Hips
For an ideal work posture, your back should recline 15 to 20 degrees to keep your hips open. When you keep your back ramrod straight, your hip flexors start to get ultra-tight because they are squished. Try standing up after you have been sitting at 90 degrees for quite some time, and you will feel like a 100 years old. Over time, tight hip flexors can end up in back pain.
The best way to mitigate this issue is to use an adjustable chair for work. Even if you do not have one at home, try getting up and moving about frequently. If you are working from a dining chair that has no give, the best thing you can do is to keep your body moving. Instead of sitting in one position for the entirety of the day, get out of your chair every 20 minutes and stretch. Remember; the best posture is always the next one!
You Feel Your Legs Cramping
Poor circulation causes leg cramps, and those aches are your body’s way of telling you that you need to change your posture. When your leg muscles are low on blood supply, you feel what is known as a “leg cramp.” For instance, try sitting down kneeling on your leg all day. Your legs will surely kill you by the end of the day!
The best way to avoid leg cramps is to promote blood circulation in your legs! You can accomplish this by adjusting the height of your chair in a way that your feet are lying flat on the ground! Try using a footrest if that is out of the question. This will ease the pressure on your thighs and promote good blood circulation. As we have stressed before, take period breaks from work and walk around to pump blood in your muscles and improve circulation!
Your Wrists Are Killing You
If you are working from a desk where your hands and wrists are straining instead of being in a neutral position, this is bound to put a strain on the tendons that go through the carpal tunnel. In case of inflammation on those tendons, they exert a pressure on your median nerve, leading to a condition commonly known as the “Carpel Tunnel Syndrome”. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes muscle weakness, numbness and a tingling sensation on your hands and fingers.
The only way to combat this issue is to Keep your wrists flat and straight while working from home. Ideally, your wrists should be kept straight and flat, instead of bending right or left. If you can, change your keyboard to one that makes sure your wrists are kept neutral. If your wrists ache or tire, you can buy an ergonomic keyboard that angles out from the center. It will help to keep your forearm and hand in a straight line.