The Pains of Working from Home: What Causes Work-related Body Aches?

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Working from home used to be a privilege and a dream for many until COVID-19 happened. The global pandemic was a tumultuous time for the workforce sector and the sudden shift to new work arrangements caught everyone unprepared as employees have to convert parts of their homes into make-shift workspaces.

In the beginning, many liked the idea of working from home, from having more time with family, lack of traffic and commute, and quick meals in the kitchen. But working remotely also poses new challenges for many employees, especially those who can’t set the boundary between work and personal life.

Working from home also becomes an excuse to slouch on the sofa or lounge on the bed the whole day while working on your laptop for hours. Although body pains have been a main health issue in the corporate world, the new work setup gave rise to newer challenges in terms of health and pain management.

Wellness workers, massage therapists, and professional chiropractors have been the go-to people for those suffering from various injuries, such as backaches, neck strain, wrist strains, and other chief complaints. Working from home can be much better if people know how to handle these physical issues. That said, we’ll tackle what causes these pains and ways to manage them.

Wrong workspace setup

The sudden transition to the work-from-home setup got everyone scrambling to create a decent workspace at home. Those who are lucky converted their spare rooms to a home office, complete with noise-canceling features and smart gadgets. Meanwhile, those caught unprepared and have a limited budget settled on make-shift setups, whether on the bedroom, couch, or just any place at home where they can sit and work.

People point out that inactivity is the main cause of back pains when working from home. While this is still true, a poor workstation is also one of the main culprits. It causes poor ergonomics, bad posture, and other physical issues. In fact, back pains have been a primary health issue at work that some companies hire ergonomic specialists and buy ergonomic furniture to ensure employees maintain a good posture at work while staying comfortable.

To address pain issues, employees try to make do of their workspaces by using the kitchen counter or stack of books as desks. Experts say that reorganizing your space with ergonomic principles in mind can make a difference.

You can start by keeping the computer screen or laptop at eye level, sitting with legs positioned at a 90-degree angle, adding a back cushion with lumbar support, and positioning the chair and keyboard at a 90- to 110-degree angle for the elbows. If you’ll be working from home for a long while, consider investing in ergonomic chairs to ensure a comfortable sitting position.

Sitting for long hours

working from home

Sitting for long periods is another potential cause of body pains and other physiological issues, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In fact, sitting all day has become a vice itself just like smoking. Overdoing it ruins the body’s normal functioning. Walking and moving from time to time allows the muscles to promote blood circulation by helping push blood to the heart.

Employees have become too immobile at their desks and chairs, which prevents their bodies to perform normally. Constant stagnation leads to health risks and harmful conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis, where the legs sustain blood clots because of lack of movement.

Performing simple movements can go a long way in relieving body pains. Develop a habit by leaving the chair every 30 minutes, taking walks, doing household chores during breaks, utilizing exercise equipment, or doing basic workout activities.

Typing for hours and walking barefoot

Typing for long periods and walking barefoot may seem a commonplace behavior for people working from home. What they’re not aware of is that footwear affects the amount of stress placed on the knees. Every time we walk barefoot, the force travels into the ground back to our bodies. Wearing footwear helps in decreasing that force.

Hovering over the laptop or computer keyboards for long periods can also cause serious concerns. Abnormal posture and shoulder tensions lead to shoulder pain. Solve this by using a standing work desk. This allows you to maintain a better position and posture for your arms, elbows, and shoulders. Early intervention through physical therapists also helps in preventing pains and aches around the body.

Even if you’re working remotely, preventing work-related injuries should be a priority. As work-from-home becomes the new normal, employees need to focus on solutions to make remote working more convenient than ever. In turn, employers should also take proactive measures in protecting employees’ overall health.

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