You finally figured out how to do your job from the living room, only to be hit with another roadblock: work-from-home-induced body pain.
Thankfully, Jon Cinkay, PT, the coordinator of body mechanics at HSS, has your back — and your head, shoulders, neck, knees, and feet, too.
With his help, we've created a guide filled with tips to eliminate work-from-home pains.
While we always recommend talking to your doctor when experiencing pain, following Cinkay's best practices for working from home could help ease some achiness you're experiencing, too.
Neck, Shoulder, and Head Pain
Besides the everyday stress of adjusting to life at home, Cinkay claims that an ergonomically incorrect workstation could be the root of your consistent neck, shoulder, and head pain. He says people often bend their necks forward to see their laptop screens, which are commonly smaller, and sit lower than most office computer monitors.
To resolve this issue, he suggests purchasing a laptop stand or large monitor so your screen height matches your eye level. Doing this can prevent you from straining your neck and shrugging your shoulders forward — both of which can trigger headaches.
While you're adjusting your screen, reevaluate your chair height, too.
If you're reaching too high or low for your keyboard and mouse, you're probably overusing your arms, which could further induce neck-and-shoulder strain, Cinkay says.
He notes that repositioning your seat so that your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle can help ease your pain. Adding a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the equation (and aligning them to the proper eye-and-arm levels) can better your posture, too.
You probably never believed you'd miss your office's fluorescent lighting until you started working from home.
"We may have more natural light coming into our home office, but if it hits your screen, one will tend to squint, which causes eye strain," Cinkay says.
According to Cinkay, prioritizing good lighting throughout your workspace and avoiding direct sunlight on your computer screen should help prevent your pain.
Are you sitting on the edge of or leaning forward in your chair right now?
If so, you're not allowing your seat to support your back, which could be triggering upper-back pain, Cinkay says.
Correct this by sitting back in your chair — your hips should be slightly higher than your knees, and your feet should be firmly on the floor, Cinkay explains.
"Using a pillow [or small towel rolled up] for back support may help. Place it between [your] upper back and the chair. If you feel the towel roll fall, it means you are leaning forward," Cinkay notes.
Lower Back, Foot, and Knee Pain
Practicing good posture is Cinkay's solution for alleviating lower back, foot, and knee pain.
Slouching often occurs between 10 to 15 minutes of sitting, Cinkay shares. Try standing up every 30 to 40 minutes (for five to 10 minutes at a time) to reset your posture. Moving around can also improve your leg circulation and tightness, which could be contributing to your knee and foot pain. He says if your feet don't touch the ground in your seat, gravity will constantly pull on your legs, which can strain your back, knees, and feet, too.
He suggests placing your feet on a footstool, some books, or reams of paper to support your legs and back.