Is Working From Home Becoming a Pain In Your Neck (shoulders, wrists and hands too)?

By: Kara Everett, DPT, CSCS, CKTP, and LSVT BIG Certified

COVID-19 has caused a lot of changes in all of our everyday lives and routines.   You may even find yourself in a new working environment – your own home! Working from home has most likely presented new challenges. No desk at home may mean working from your couch or kitchen table.  You may notice your back hurts.   Come to think of it, you have been noticing your neck, shoulder, wrist, and hand all hurt – what is wrong?!?  Luckily for you, Carousel is here to help! We’ve got tips to improve your at-home make-shift “work” stations to avoid new injuries (no Workman’s Comp at home ladies and gents! 😊).

Table Manners: If you do not already have a desk at home, sitting at your kitchen table may be your best bet to set up shop. Elevate your laptop to eye level by placing books or boxes under the computer. Place your mouse close enough so that your arm can rest on the table and you do not have to hold arm outstretched to reach the mouse. This will prevent increased stress to your shoulder and neck.  Sit in a chair that has a tall back or use pillows behind you to support lower and upper back. Place a box to support your feet if you cannot reach the floor.

Deep Couch Sitting: Although not the most ideal place to work but let’s be real, we know at times you will be working from your couch. When doing so, make sure that your computer is elevated to eye level by placing pillows under your lap (be sure to put a book on top of pillow to prevent computer from overheating and allow good airflow through computer vents). This will prevent you from looking down excessively and increasing chances of neck pain. You can also use pillows for lumbar (back) support or between your shoulder blades to prevent slouching and forward head posture that may cause neck and/or back pain.

Don’t Squint:  Another tidbit is if you typically wear glasses to read be sure to use when working at the computer. If you have difficulty seeing your screen this will cause squinting and moving your head forward to see the screen better. This forward head posture can increase your likelihood of neck and shoulder pain.

Stretch it Out: Finally, our bodies are made to move so staying in one position for too long can increase pain in any part of our body. Yes, every 30-minutes get up and change position. Rotate your trunk side to side, side bend trunk to one side while reaching overhead with other hand, lean backwards with hands on hips, turn head left and right, and side bend head left and right (bring ear to shoulder on each side).

Working from home should be all about productivity, not pain! Stay healthy and be well, we are all in this together!