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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced an unprecedented number of Americans to work from home. An unintended consequence of this form of social distancing has been a noticeable increase in the incidence of lower back pain.

Most offices follow the American National Standards Institute in the design of their computer workstations and use ergonomic furniture and accessories. But, with the necessity of makeshift home offices, and the decrease in physical activity due to the disruption of our normal everyday routines, these postural issues are becoming rampant.

“Many of today’s workspaces are designed to promote proper posture while spending hours sitting at a desk or workstation,” says Steven S. Yocom, DO, Co-Director, Spine Program and Neurosurgeon. “This includes ergonomic chairs, desks of the correct height and desktop computers set to the correct height.”

A large majority of people working from home are choosing to work while sitting on their sofa or bed, or at the kitchen or dining room table. Dr. Yocom advises his patients to avoid working all day in these locations, especially the sofa.

“By avoiding these less than ideal conditions, you could do your back a huge favor,” he says. “Try to set up your home office to avoid poor posture and slumping. Have your computer set to the proper height to avoid neck and upper back strain.”

Click here for tips on how you can maintain good posture while working from home – all with using items easily found around your house.

Another potential pitfall of working from home can be a decrease in your physical activity. Even the simple act of commuting to and from an office includes a certain amount of physical activity. Without a commute, that activity is gone. Some simple fixes for this include:

Incorporating 20 to 30 minutes of fairly strenuous exercise into your daily routine.
Getting up from your workspace every 30 minutes to walk around or climb stairs.
Some form of stretching.

Albert Guarini, PT, from the Cooper Physical Therapy Department has created some exercises to help reduce your neck and back pain during this difficult time. Find them here and here.

 

October 2020
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