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Avoid Orthopaedic Aches and Pains by Making Smart Adjustments

WFH Woes? Avoid Orthopaedic Aches and Pains by Making Smart Adjustments

 Working from home has been a bit of a mixed blessing for many of us. Despite the challenge of establishing work-life balance all in one location, studies show we’ve become more productive and more satisfied with our work. But there is at least one downside: We may be taking advantage of the “comforts of home” too often.

When we left behind the structure of the corporate office, we also abandoned many of the ergonomic structures that help us do our jobs without pain or injury. Working from the recliner using a laptop – or worse, using a smartphone instead of a computer – can potentially lead to the same orthopaedic and hand issues that corporate workspaces were designed to alleviate.

Even if you’ve been working from home for years, it’s not too late to improve your home office to minimize pain and potential injury. And if working from home is part of your long-term plan, it will be worth it to invest in a workspace that works for you.

Customize your workspace to fit you 

Now that you’re no longer in a cookie cutter office, you can create a space that’s just right for you. Ideally, you can design a space that allows you to have proper lighting – both natural and artificial – as well as furniture that fits your size, shape, and work style. By ensuring you have the right pieces in the right places, you can avoid musculoskeletal pain, neck, and spine alignment issues, and even hand and wrist injuries.

  • Your desk. Consider an adjustable desk. The ability to customize your desk height, combined with an adjustable chair, lets you personalize your workspace so that your feet touch flat on the floor with your desk at elbow height. You may even want to consider a desk that adjusts to standing height to limit the time you spend seated.
  • Your computer. Make sure your primary computer monitor is centered directly in front of you, with the top third at eye level. Adjust your chair, desktop, or monitor position to ensure the proper height, or add a riser or a stack of books to get it just right. Set the type size so that you can comfortably read your monitor without straining or leaning into the screen.
  • Your accessories. Whether you’re using a desktop or a laptop, consider upgrading to an ergonomic mouse and keyboard. This is particularly important if you regularly use a laptop, since your laptop’s keypad and “mouse” aren’t designed for long-term daily use.
  • Your chair. Invest in an adjustable desk chair that allows you to set the seat height as well as the back angle. Then set it so you can work comfortably with your spine against the backrest, feet on the floor.  Adjustable armrests can also help you create a work position that is both comfortable and ergonomic.
  • Your lighting. Be sure you have sufficient ambient lighting and task lighting for your workspace. And don’t forget to take advantage of the one type of lighting you may not have had at the office: natural light. Position your desk and screen angles to maximize sunlight while avoiding glare. And consider wearing blue light glasses – either with a prescription or without – to limit the additional eye strain caused by long stretches of screen time.
  • Your smartphone. Smartphones have definitely freed us from being tethered to a desk or laptop to get work done. But it’s important to limit your time where possible to avoid “tech neck” (from looking down at your phone) or hand issues from overuse of your thumbs and the way you cradle your phone.

Consult a professional

Of course, even with well-chosen, well-positioned equipment, office work still requires a certain level of repeated activities that may cause pain or even potential injury. If you’re already experiencing some of the neck, back or hand pain that can come from office work, it may be time to consider a visit with a specialist at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Physicians in our practice have the education and experience to help you modify your workspace, reduce or eliminate pain, and mitigate the risk of long-term injury.

Since 1972, the specialists at DOC Orthopaedics have been committed to providing exceptional orthopaedic care through innovative techniques, quality services, patient communication and education. With specialties ranging from general orthopaedics and physical therapy to sports medicine and more, the doctors at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine can provide local expert guidance to avoid injury, as well as any necessary care for any orthopaedic disorder or injury to help keep you healthy and pain-free. To schedule an appointment, please click here today.

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