COVID-19 has changed the way we live. Many of us are now working from home and some degree of home-working may become a permanent feature of our lives, even after things settle down.
So when we get out that laptop or roll out of bed next to our desks, what are the injury risks? What should we be doing to avoid injury? I will outline some tips to avoid back pain at work and other physical health issues related to working from home.
Staying injury-free and maintaining an optimal posture at your desk is imperative in order to prevent an otherwise avoidable injury! In this article, I have gathered the top tips for staying healthy and have included desk-based exercises so you can perform physiotherapy exercises from the comfort of your home.
Start small, prompt yourself to maintain a good desk posture, try simple desk workouts or light stretches while sat down if you are in a rush. Introducing these habits in small increments can have lasting positive effects and help you side-step back problems.
Try to maintain the right posture at desk.
Keeping a good desk posture is essential; otherwise, you will likely start experiencing some back pain.
Ideally, you want to experiment as you try to find the best way to sit at your desk. You can start the day sitting at your desk, and then you can shift to a standing position.
Try to correct your posture with some “at home physiotherapy” and sitting exercises. The below graphic demonstrates how simple things like, room for leg clearance and a foot support can both help optimise your desk posture.
Raise your chair.
Another great idea is to add a pillow under the seat. Even a regular chair will become a lot more comfortable, which makes this advice one of the most popular amongst the top physiotherapy tips.
In case you don’t have a pillow, you can use a soft towel for the same results. You will feel more comfortable, and it will still help you get a good desk posture. It takes a bit of trial and error to ensure it all works correctly, so try to use these tricks to your advantage without giving up, and you will feel the results.
Move around and experiment with the right posture.
We all have different heights, weights and health as a whole, so we can’t tell you the perfect approach for your specific situation. However, one of the best tips to stay physically healthy we can give you is: don’t be afraid of experimenting.
Keep reading, because our physio at home advice will help you find what works for you.
Never sit at a desk for hours and hours without breaks. We recommend you to take your time and move around for a few minutes every 25 minutes. The reason for that is it allows you to regain focus on your posture. In fact, many entrepreneurs swear by the Pomodoro Technique, which consists of doing a 5 minutes break after every 25 minutes focusing. After repeating this step 4 times, take a 15 minutes break.
This technique will not only help you stay physically healthy, but it is also known for its productivity improvement! Personally, and to make sure you get notified every 25 minutes, I recommend a multi-device app called Focus To-Do. You can also use this app to prevent back pain at work in a chair.
Invest in good desk ergonomics.
Getting a physio chair and making sure that your positioning is ergonomic will also help you stay physically healthy. Also, your screen needs to be central and at an arm’s length away from you.
On top of that, you will need to keep items like the keyboard and mouse comfortably close to you. Experiment as you figure out what positioning works best for you.
Use a standing desk.
Standing desks are great because you don’t have to worry about sitting for hours after hours. You get to move around as you work while keeping a good posture. Instead of sitting at a desk for hours, you will always find better physical results by standing while getting some work done.
Also, we recommend you to avoid repetitive rotation. If you have two screens, you can keep both stacked or very close to one another.
Let’s dig deeper into some exercises to do at your desk.
Ideally, you want to exercise a little bit even if you’re at your desk. Things, like rotating your shoulders in circles or reaching up over your head and then leaning side to side, will help you prevent a back pain office work scenario.
You can also try out some stretches at your desk. They will increase comfort and prevent any physical issues. Desk stretches are a great sitting exercise, and you will find them incredibly helpful if you work for hours consecutively.
You can also reach behind your chair; this helps if you want to stretch your chest. All these exercises you can do at your desk will help you stay physically healthy; you just have to adapt them to your particular situation and customise them based on your needs.
Some of the most popular desk stretches are the shoulder shrugs, neck rotations, shoulder extensions, thoracic rotations or even the upper shoulder and neck stretch. They make it easy for you to retain excellent health while also enhancing your energy levels.
Sit on an exercise ball.
If possible, switch your chair with an exercise ball periodically. Exercise balls will help promote a good posture, and they also enhance your blood flow. Your muscles need to work harder to keep the right posture, so you will find this approach very helpful and convenient.
If you have any phone calls or conferences, you can try to stand up. It makes it easier for you to stay away from sitting all the time.
Yes, if you’re dehydrated, you can end up with muscle soreness. When you are working for hours in front of a computer, it can be easy to forget about drinking water or eating at the right time. Setting reminders can help a lot.
And yes, always focus on staying hydrated, as your body needs the right amount of water to survive.
Reduce eye strain.
You can reduce eye strain by using protective glasses or taking a short break and directing your eyes away from the computer. It will make it easy to prevent any eye strains, headaches and other similar problems. We recommend you to do this every 20-30 minutes. Considering it will help you keep your eyes healthy, you will find it well worth it in the end.
If you are suffering from pain related to your remote work, seeking online physiotherapy is an excellent idea so you can work closely with a professional to help you get better. However, if you feel fine but still spend too many hours working at your desk, you should follow the advice we gave you today to prevent any health issues from sitting too much day after day.
Working from home sounds great, but it does come with its fair share of challenges. Ensure that you give these tips a try and don’t hesitate to work closely with a physiotherapist. These tips are a great way to stay safe during this pandemic and prevent going to the hospital with back pain, eye strains and hand injuries from working too much in front of your computer!