The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, but one of the most disruptive shifts has turned our work world upside down: working from home. With shuttered offices across the country, the 2020 American workplace has looked very different, and it may actually be hurting us.

Workplace injuries don’t just happen in warehouses and on loading docks. While initially more subtle, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) from working at a desk that’s not ergonomically supported can also cause significant pain and suffering. While MSDs like carpal tunnel or lower back pain develop slowly, the pain can be just as debilitating.

“Sitting on a coach or at an ill-fitting desk all day stresses our joints, creating pain, and potentially, long-lasting injury,” says chiropractor Dr. Jim Doran from Denver-based Integrative Health & Rehabilitation, who began to see an uptick in the number of patients with back and neck pain in late March. “The body is great at compensating until it’s not,” he says.

Until the vaccine rollout makes possible a full return to the workplace, we join Dr. Doran in recommending the following ergonomic tips for working at home. And, when you return to the office, take these tips along with you. Ergonomics is essential to bone and joint health no matter the location.

Tips for Working from home

  • When making changes to your workspace, remember that ergonomics involves the three S’s: seat, surface and screen. Often, small but impactful adjustments make a world of difference.
  • Consider buying an adjustable, flexible chair so you can easily move and change positions throughout the day.
  • Attach movable arms to your monitor to provide flexibility and increase the overall work surface on your desk.
  • To prevent hunching, set up your workspace so that your elbows, knees, and lower back are all resting at 90 degrees and place your monitors straight ahead.
  • If you work at a standing desk, don’t put force on the front and back of the knee. It can cause an imbalance that can lead to pain and inflammation.
  • Stand up every 15-20 minutes to create motion in your spine. When returning to your keyboard, you won’t revert into a slumped position.
  • To prevent injury, moving your body is critical. Our bodies need to move at least 8-10 minutes every hour. Put the printer in another room to get steps in or get up to grab another glass of water.

We are continuing to do ergonomics assessments, even for home offices. As ergonomics experts, we can help you identify discomfort indicators and choose the best products and configurations to ensure your safety and comfort while working from home. Call us for a consult.