Home workstations can take a toll on your health and wellness
By STEVE WASHBURN / Physical Therapist Assistant
When Covid-19 shook the world, it forced people to alter the way they managed their daily lives. And one of the daily routines that the virus disrupted was work as more and more people found themselves working from home when companies closed their office doors to avoid close contact among their employees.
Even though the move to have employees work from home was a decision based on safety, it also created several hidden health concerns as impromptu work areas that featured poor ergonomic layout popped up everywhere in homes. Most workstations in offices are structured with a neutral ergonomic layout that provides slight modifications to suit a body’s ergonomics. While it might not seem like much, proper workplace ergonomics have a huge impact on an employee’s overall health.
A poor ergonomic setup, however, can place up to four times the amount of force on a person’s neck and spine. When an ergonomically optimized workstation is used, it allows for minimized strain on the body and that can lead to better health. A poor setup will dramatically increase the force that a body endures, which may take months for the physiological ramifications to appear. Once symptoms start, it will take a longer recovery time to correct the muscular imbalances, reduce muscle tension, increase muscle flexibility and retrain proper postural corrections.
Another problem with working from home is the decrease in physical movement. Inactivity is one of the largest health problems for the modern workforce and can lead to numerous detrimental health issues. Employees do not walk around as much or take as many breaks in an effort to power through the workday when they work from home. Instead, they complete work early to take care of errands or tasks around the house.
In an effort to counter the inactivity of working at home, and with limited opportunities to exercise as gyms were closed and recreational activities were suspended because of the virus, many people turned to the Internet and social media to learn of exercise and fitness routines they could perform at home with limited equipment.
While on the surface this was an admirable attempt at increasing activity, it also presented a problem. What exercises are right for you? The prevalence of fitness influences and user-targeted sponsored ads make it difficult to find the most accurate and reliable content. Most instructional videos do not properly explain the proper movement patterns, body mechanics or modifications for people who have to work around a previous injury.
Do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions on whether an exercise or fitness plan is the right fit for you.