What’s your go-to work-from-home position? Huddled over a laptop while sitting at the dining room table? Sprawled across the floor, supporting your weight on your elbows? Slumped into the couch with legs outstretched on the ottoman?
Follow-up question: How have your neck and shoulders been feeling?
There’s a good chance your answer is, “Not so great.”
“Patients who are having to work from home or students who are doing their schooling from home are finding that they’re struggling with their positions, and they’re just having more and more discomfort,” says physical therapist Evan Olson, who was our guest on the For Health’s Sake podcast.
But there are things you can do to lose the pain and gain better posture. It starts with thinking about “what is our body doing while we’re sitting at a position to accomplish our goals,” says Olson. For example, are your thighs and knees at right angles? Is your back supported? Do you have to look down or turn your head to view the screen?
After determining possible issues, the next step is adjusting your chair, work surface, and work tools to support a healthier posture when sitting at your computer. But while improving the ergonomics of your work-from-home area will go a long way, it’s not a magic solution.
“[A] long static prolonged position – of any position – that can be really hard on our bodies,” Olson says. So, take regular breaks, stretch and move around – even if you’re not feeling stiffness, soreness or pain.
Are you ready to get your work setup and posture in line? Listen to the episode to learn:
- How your body should be positioned at your work area
- The importance of right angles
- What to look for in an office chair
- Whether standing desks are helpful
- How motion is lotion
- Exercises to reduce shoulder and neck pain
Get help if the pain doesn’t go away
If changing your computer setup doesn’t lessen your pain, don’t just work through it. Working with a physical therapist is often the best way to identify the cause of your pain and how to get rid of it. They can assess your posture and provide guidance on the best exercises to strengthen your neck, shoulder and back muscles.
“In all reality, if you’re having problems with your neck, I really suggest seeing your primary care physician. Get a referral and see a therapist that can actually get you into the correct exercises.”