Stress levels are at an all time high as a result of our current climate. COVID-19 has completely rocked the world and we are all acclimatizing to a new ‘normal’. This includes many of us now working from home, often in a completely different set-up to what our bodies have been accustomed to in our usual offices, classrooms and workstations. Unfortunately, however, our living room couches, kitchen benches or even ironing boards – yes we have seen it all! – don’t really compare to our more ergonomically friendly work spaces. We are expecting more and more people to suffer from neck, back, shoulder and wrist pain that can be directly related to a poor ergonomic home set up and the increased stress.
What we know from the literature is that the pain experienced is attributed to a number of factors, including biological (our physical structures), psychological (our beliefs and coping responses) and social (our culture and contingencies). We usually have a certain pain ‘tolerance’, and when this tolerance or capacity is surpassed, we experience pain. Now what we also know is that with increased stress, our capacity or tolerance is much lower – leaving us more susceptible to pain. Once this capacity is breached, this niggly-type annoyance pain can linger and become something much greater. Our aim is to either prevent this pain from starting and becoming even more of a burden on your life.
How we do this is by conducting a thorough online consultation, assessing your home work space. Our team at Yves Silveira Physiotherapy have created a seamless process that will walk you through it all. From going to this website to book an online consultation, all the way through to receiving the report of our findings – you don’t need to download anything or leave your house, it’s that simple! Together we will work out ways to best improve the ergonomics of your set up, reducing your risk of sustaining an injury or being in pain at home. We can also put you in contact with our equipment suppliers if need be and guide you to the most suitable equipment for you. We will also show you the tips and tricks to individualise your equipment – it is all well and good buying an ergonomic chair from IKEA or Bunnings but it MUST be individualised. One chair may be a good fit for one person, but be completely different for another. We will show you exactly how to perform the best stretches and exercises to do in order to build up your tolerance to pain. Finally, we will send you a report summarising our main findings, any extra information you may need regarding equipment and the best tips and tricks we recommend for you personally.
Dee Pabst, one of our clients who reached out to us after he was finding that his current work set-up at home was ‘woefully inadequate’ to the task of creating a safe working environment week in week out at home. He was using his lounge chair and coffee table as his workspace which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to, however he quickly began to experience neck and back pain as a result. Although he did receive information from his company about the importance of good ergonomics, Dee explains it is tougher to actually put this into practice at home. “I’d been exposed to the ergonomic information before I suppose but I hadn’t really put it into practice…It was really handy to be able to action it straight away without having any equipment change.”
Dee went on to further explain that the immediate changes improved his posture greatly and took some of the pressure of his back and neck. We were able to show Dee how to take measurements of his body to be able to order in a chair that was personalised to his needs. It is easy to take for granted or underestimate just how important it is to individualise the chair to the person, “It is incredible how quickly any kind of discomfort goes away in my body as soon as I’m sitting on a proper chair.” Dee said. Which is what we are seeing too.
When speaking about whether others who are concerned about their work from home space should get in contact and book an online ergonomic consultation he stated “It’s a no brainer….It’s an incredible service, unbeatable price, and with the discounts you can get on equipment it kind of pays for itself.” Our team is passionate about helping people reduce their risk of injury and take the burden off the health care system, especially in these tough times. If you have recently started working from home please check out my top six general tips to remaining happy and healthy:
- Have your computer screen at eye level – To prevent having your neck looking down or up at the screen all day place some books under your monitor or adjust the screen height so that it is in line with your eyes – your neck will thank you later!
- Utilise the ‘propped keyboard’ position – What this means is pushing your keyboard deeper on the desk so that your forearms can sit comfortably on the desk. Notice how your upper back is now relaxed and your shoulders aren’t up near your ears?
- Have 3-5 fingers between the back of your knees and the seat edge while sitting right back against the back support – If you don’t have this right, the chair is probably not suited for you. If the dimensions are correct however, your back can utilise what the back support is designed for – to support your back!
- Get up and move every 30-60 minutes – Our bodies weren’t designed to stay in the same spot for hours on end, the more you can get up and move the better. We recommend setting an alarm every hour to remind you to get up and take a walk around the house or perform a few stretches
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity – These are the keys. Getting a good sleep, eating healthy and exercising regularly will allow us to work freely and all are amazing de-stressors.
- If you are experiencing pain or are concerned over your work set-up please contact me via www.physioyves.com / www.ergonomicassessment.com – we would love to help you.