Thanks to COVID-19, many of us have been working from home. Whether your new ‘office’ is the kitchen table or a folding table – a workspace setup without proper ergonomics can take its toll.
“You lost a nice desk height. You lost a good office chair. You lost your desktop computer and are now using a laptop more frequently,” said Andrew Bang, DC, a chiropractor at Cleveland Clinic. “This leads to three areas which I've really seen an increase in musculoskeletal complaints.”
Bang said neck, back and wrist pain are some of most common ailments for people working from home. “If you're doing repetitive action, you're going to have pain,” he said. “That's all that's happening at our workstations at home.”
Changing your position throughout the day can help – and give fatigued muscles a break.
“You want to get up, move around, maybe you have every hour where you're standing and working for a few phone calls you have,” said Bang. “Or, you're changing your kitchen table chair for that exercise ball that sits in the basement that you never use. You’re going to use that for 20 or 30 minutes but then you’re going to switch back to the chair.”
If your wrist is sore from using a laptop touchpad, a keyboard and mouse can help ease discomfort. “If you’re having a lot of wrist pain, there are ergonomic mouses that, instead of your wrist being at a flat, it’s called pronated position, where your palm is facing down towards the desk, they prop your wrist at a either 90 position, or a 45 position, which puts your wrist bones at a more natural alignment which can take pressure off of those nerves that get irritated,” Bang said.
Once you change position, Bang said muscle injuries should feel better in about three days.
However, if your pain is lingering despite changing your work setup, Bang suggests stretching or contracting the muscle that’s bothering you. If that doesn’t do the trick, he recommends connecting with your medical provider.