DOUGLAS COUNTY, Neb. – People across the country have set up temporary offices in their kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, working from home isn’t just cramping people’s style, it is also resulting in unexpected aches and pains in their neck or back.
In Douglas County, Nebraska, Judge Horatio Wheelock has been presiding virtually.
“Is this the future? I don’t know,” he says.
Like millions of Americans, his home has become his office. Thanks to technology, it’s possible.
But a lot of us are finding it can be a pain…literally.
“People are reporting their backs are a little bit sore, they’re feeling more neck pain, headaches,” says Dr. Kristin Somerville, Clinical Instructor-UNC School of Medicine.
Dr. Somerville says it’s likely related to both how we’re sitting, and where.
She recommends to skip working from your bed or couch and opt for a supportive chair in front of a counter or desk, to improve your alignment.
“You should have your hips in line with your shoulders, which should be in line with your ears,” Dr. Somerville adds.
She says aim to work in natural light over harsh overhead light that can lead to eye strain.
“That could also lead us to lean into the computer, having that rounded shoulder, head forward posture which increases stress, not only on our neck and shoulder, but also our backs,” she says.
Take a mini walk or stretching breaks, every hour if possible.
“It’s okay if we’re not in the best ergonomically position, but as long as we’re not staying there for three, four or five hours at a time,” continues Dr. Somerville.
Small changes can make a big difference in your new home-office life. Dr. Somerville says in a perfect world, your computer screen would be at eye level, while your keyboard would be much lower.
So, if you have a laptop, try to position if at roughly chest height.