Why Working From Home Could Be Putting You At Risk.

May 21, 2020

If you have ever experienced sitting the wrong way for too long that resulted in stiffness or pain you will not be surprised to learn that there are serious consequences of poor long term posture. According to the American Posture Institute, this is a growing problem globally. Poor posture can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and physiologic dysfunction of the body.  These problems are not only causing pain, but they are a burden to individuals and society.

The American Posture Institute Highlight These Facts:

  • 80% of Americans report having back pain at some point in their lives.
  • Up to 54% of workers in the western world experience neck pain.
  • Americans spend between $50-$100 billion per year on back pain.
  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. 

The cause of many patients’ pain is sitting for prolonged periods in awkward postures in front of a computer monitor. The European Journal of Public Health identified that frequent computer-related activities are an independent risk factor for neck and shoulder pain and low back pain.  Computer use up to 2-3 hours was the threshold for neck and shoulder pain and daily use of 5 hours was the threshold of low back pain. Workers tend to experience pain after using a computer for just 2-5 hours.  Modern jobs more likely require being seated in front of a computer for up to 8 hours per day and personal device use averages 2-4 hours per day.

Tilting the head forward in forward head posture has a significant impact on the cervical spine.  “Tech Neck” is the term used to describe forward head posture while looking down at your personal device.  When the ears are in front of the shoulders and the cervical spine loses a neutral position for a prolonged time this is creating musculoskeletal imbalance and stress.

Posture Therapy is an emerging field to help overcome the issues of posture-related dysfunction. Preventing posture related injury is something we all need to take personal responsibility for especially when working from home.  

These tips might help while you are working from home:

    1. It is important to ergonomically set up your workspace correctly.

    2. Change your sitting posture regularly, the same posture for too long is problematic

    3. Plan regular 5 minute movement breaks every 40 – 60 minutes. Go for a 5 minute walk before sitting back at your desk.

    4. Take phone calls standing up when you can to reduce sitting time and pace about to improve circulation and allow neck and shoulder muscles to relax

    5. When using personal devices lift the device and avoid dropping your head.

    6. If you have a Fit Ball swap between sitting on an ergonomic chair and the ball. Use the Fit ball for only short stints of 10 – 15 minutes. More than that will likely result in poor posture as muscles tire and you’ll begin slumping.

    7. Avoid working on the couch. Even though it may feel comfortable to begin, longer-term couch-based computer work exacerbates poor posture.