By Virginia Nsitem
During the current COVID-19 outbreak, many people transformed their dining rooms and kitchen tables to their home office. Unfortunately, these home work-spaces are not designed for sitting and working on the computer for over eight hours per day. This can lead to headaches, neck and back pain, and joint pain in the arms and legs.
The buzz term for setting up your home office is Ergonomics. That’s s the science of designing and positioning items that we use so that we are able function in an efficient and safe way.
Starting with your computer, you want to make sure that you position the laptop or monitor on your desk so that you can see the entire screen without having to move your head excessively up and down. This will help reduce the chance of developing neck pain.
It is important that your keyboard and mouse are on the same level so that you can reach both without having to move your elbows repetitively.
To maintain proper posture, invest in a suitable office chair. Dining room or kitchen chairs may not provide the best support for long periods of sitting. Make sure that your chair is adjusted to position your hips slightly higher than your knees. You can place your feet on the floor or a footrest.
Finally, make sure to schedule mini-breaks throughout the day to allow yourself to walk around, stretch, and change your posture at least every 30 minutes. Have healthy snacks and plenty of water at your desk to keep you energized, and don’t forget to schedule your lunch break.
Typical symptoms of postural strain that you may experience when working from home include:
- Tension headaches felt as a tight band around your head
- Headaches originating from the neck that travel to the top of the head and face
- Stiff neck, upper back, and low back
- Tight muscles in the shoulders
- Numbness and tingling in the forearms and hands
- Tight muscles in the hips and knees
If you experience pain, seek advice from your chiropractor. Prior to providing you with a diagnosis, your chiropractor or physician will perform a physical exam to determine the cause of your pain. Chiropractors specialize in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries of the spine, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and nerves.
Your treatment program may include:
- Chiropractic manual treatments to improve flexibility, balance, and strength of the spine, and restore proper movement to the muscles and joints of the spine. Laser therapy may help reduce the pain associated with the pain and inflammation.
- Exercise Program. It is important to practice specific exercises to strengthen the spinal and joint muscles and increase the flexibility of these structures. These exercises are usually performed during the treatments and at home. A chiropractor or physiotherapist can prescribed exercises specific to your injury.
- Massage therapy. Massage may be helpful in reducing the pain associated with tight muscles, and improve circulation and relaxation.
- Posture and Ergonomics. Education on the proper set-up of your home office is important to reduce the risk of re-injury.
Stop the Pain … Before the Pain Stops You
(Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for spine, muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences in Canada. She may be reached at (905) 275-4993, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org )