Work is a pain: ‘Office ergonomics at home are not ideal’


Physical therapists seeing more neck, back problems

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Before the pandemic, most people went to work and put in an 8-hour day at stations designed for an 8-hour work day. But the same can’t be said for many of our work-from-home spaces.

Physical therapy clinics said they’re seeing an increase of people with neck and back problems. Physical therapists like Jessica Dorrington said they’re seeing more people with pain caused from working at home.

A woman works at a home office (KOIN, file)

“Everybody’s office ergonomics at home are not ideal,” Dorrington told KOIN 6 News. “A lot of it is upper neck tension, sometimes tension headaches or things that are kind of through the elbow and wrist or low back issues.”

She has some easy tips: make your computer screen level with your eyebrows so you’re not straining your neck, and consider getting an external mouse and keyboard for your laptop so you can prop it up on something

The ideal position, she said, “is not your couch.”

A woman works at a home office (KOIN, file)

There are exercises you can do throughout the day to relieve the pain, she said.

Easy to do home office exercises

“Kind of tip your pelvis back. Your back is flat against the wall and then your hands and your elbows go up the wall and your chin goes in a nice neutral position,” Dorrington said. “You just try to bring your hands up overhead, almost like you’re a kid trying to make a snow angel in the snow.”

Back strain and injuries are common. “So just putting your hands on the small of your back and just doing some gentle lean backs, 10 times every single hour that you stand up, just helps reverse and get the disks some hydration to get things moving for your low back.”

People type a great deal but there is a way to stretch while still working, she said.

“Put one foot forward, one foot back and you kind of tuck your pelvis under so you feel a nice stretch in the front of your thigh and hip,” she said. If you need more of a stretch, go forward a bit to deepen the stretch.

“Even though most of the pain is in the back, think about stretching out the front.”

A man works at a home office (KOIN, file)

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