Home working has become the norm in the time of covid 19. Even with the lifting of lock down, this will probably remain the norm for at least part of the working week. Interestingly, physiotherapists are reporting a change in the type of pain being reported since lock down. Knee and lower leg strain has pushed low back pain into second place as people run and walk more than usual. See my blog of 9/05/20.
Neck pain has increased significantly due to less than ideal home office conditions. If people are going to be working from home two or three days a week at least for some time to come, the home office needs to be taken seriously. It may be worth buying a proper office chair for home. They can be bought on line of course, but like a bed, it is best to try it out in the flesh. The more ‘executive’ the chair, the more expensive it will be, but the most expensive is not necessarily the best. The big arms, high back, and lots of soft padding may not be the most comfortable in the long run. Look for a chair with as many adjustments as possible so you can tailor it to your needs.
Poking the neck forward from the collar line while looking at screens is one of the most common causes of neck pain. The weight of the head is meant to be supported by the whole torso, not dangling out in front of it. The old fashioned desk top/ PC made this relatively easy. The top of the screen should be at eye level. The lap top was never meant to be used all day long and is an ergonomic disaster unless the screen can be detached and put at the correct level.
There is a lot you can do to improve your chair without spending much, or any money. Many dining room chairs slope down at the back forcing the sitter to slump. You want at the very least, a flat, parallel to the floor seat. A forward sloping seat is even better. It’s not magic but it makes good posture easier. Two books 2 or 3 inches thick, and the same thickness, under the back legs of the chair gives you a forward sloping, or at least, a parallel seat. It is possible to buy chair/desk raisers online. It is also possible to buy wedge cushions on line, but they are usually too soft and don’t help as much as they could. A guaranteed firm wedge can be bought from Richard Brennan, The Alexander Technique, Ireland.
Standing desks are increasingly popular, and you may be able to improvise by using a chest of drawers or putting a small coffee table on your dining room table or desk. An hour standing alternating with an hour sitting can be helpful.
If you write by hand (some people still do!) or read papers, a sloping surface makes this much easier. You don’t have to poke the neck forward to see. You can buy writing slopes online, but you can improvise with a file or even make one. A slope of 3 or 4 inches from top to bottom will do it.
Watch this space. I hope to start work in July when hairdressers and beauticians are, hopefully, allowed back. I have laid in supplies of Personal Protective Equipment in readiness.