The Posture of Working from Home

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Bad shape, slouching, tech neck, eight ball, MSD, CVS, RSI, the slouch, the stoop, the drag, the droop. Talk about all the feels.

Americans were dealing with ‘feels’ and issues long before COVID. Matter of fact, about 1 in 2 U.S. adults has a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), costing an estimated $213 billion each year in treatment and lost wages, according to a report from the United States Bone and Joint Initiative. Carpal tunnel syndrome alone makes up over three million cases per year and experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. The clincher is that the economic and human costs of MSDs are unnecessary and preventable. But finding a prevention strategy requires knowledge, time and attention.

The risks of getting one of these health conditions is due to a combination of two things; mediocre working conditions and personal risk factors that could be avoided. Add COVID and working from home and the circumstances are likely to become even more problematic.

One of the largest influences of back pain and musculoskeletal disorder is posture. Posture is everything! Don’t you remember your Mom telling you, “stand up tall”? And now we know why. What an important request…Thank you, Mom!

But, when we think of posture we probably think of standing. The truth is, we need to practice posture all day long, sitting, standing, walking…in all forms of movement. Posture and body position play a role in everything we do and especially our work environment because we spend SO MUCH time in that setting! The best way to overcome poor posture is to invest in good ergonomics and awareness.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work to the worker, not the other way around. Too many times, we accommodate to what is put in front of us, without question. The option to be comfortable at work seems like too much to ask. But in reality, it really is best for employee and employer as the focus is on productivity, efficiency and keeping employees happy. 😊 Ergonomics is defined as “natural laws of work”; the study of the kind of work you do, the environment you work in, and the tools you use to do your job. In order to reduce the aches and pains of our tech world, we need to stand tall and recognize risk factors, both personal and work-related.  As COVID has certainly changed the where, the when, the why and the how of work, it definitely won’t change the what, that happens to our health if we continue to work with bad habits, a high pace and lack of understanding.

Whether you sit at an office space or you are planted on your kitchen counter, there are ways to feel comfortable, reduce stress and eliminate injuries due to bad posture, repeated tasks and overuse of muscles.

Number ONE, speak up! Ask your company if they have an ergonomics professional that can give you advice and recommendations on your workstation. If they do not have one, they may be willing to hire it out or allow you to make some alterations.

 

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.)

  • Common ones include: Carpal Tunnel, Muscle strain & sprain, Tendinitis, Tennis Elbow, Trigger finger, DeQuervain’s syndrome, Mechanical back syndrome, & many more..

 

WORK FROM HOME TIPS:

  • Use a GOOD, adjustable chair 
  • Sit with hips at 90 degrees and feet flat on floor or use footrest
  • Keep wrists & forearms parallel to the floor with elbows 90° or greater
  • Adjust your monitors to eye level or slightly below
  • Sit by a window and look out the window every half hour
  • Find a personal space, just for you
  • Get up every hour!
  • STRETCH!

 

EXTRAS, if possible:

  • Buy an adjustable chair
  • Buy an adjustable desk
  • Use an ergo mouse
  • Use an external keyboard, if on laptop

 

For more information on ergonomics and healthy at-home working conditions and resources please contact Kimberley Jackman, professional health coach and ergonomist.

 

 

Kimberley Jackman
Lifestyle Medicine ~ Exercise Science ~ Nutritional Guidance
e. kimberleydjackman@gmail.com

I am energized about health and have spent the past 16 years studying wellness, lifestyle, exercise and nutrition.  My passion is partnering with women to help them bridge the gap between what they’re doing with their wellness and what they know is needed to live a healthy, lively life and beat disease!  I am devoted to each and every client and committed to their well-being. I live and teach holistically, and believe that every small step we take within is a path to the greater good. We all have a beautiful place on this earth, let’s embrace it!

My certifications include Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer and Ergonomics Specialist.

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