The COVID-19 crisis and the related levels of burnout that people are experiencing during work from home remain pervasive problems, especially among employed parents. But not just adults, even millennials are already suffering from a notable rise in both mental as well physical distress from the pandemic. The real risk exists when prolonged sitting and lack of movement begins to contribute to significant body aches, joint pains, and eventual injuries.
Pervasive workplace stigma exacerbates this risk, with people starting to get comfortable with work from home, they are unaware that everything from their sitting posture to repetitive activities could have a negative influence on their body. This can have concrete effects on critical workplace outcomes, including employee well-being, satisfaction, productivity, and absenteeism. Therefore, it is imperative that you take care of your physical well-being by reimagining your home workspace to maintain a healthy work environment.
Physiotherapy and ergonomics have largely been overlooked during the pandemic with more people focusing only on manual activities such as going to the Gym or attending Yoga classes. Although the potential benefits of these activities are substantial, it requires determination and time, which is almost insufficient for most employees working from home. People often grapple with how to balance their enduring family priorities and job responsibilities. Along with this, the lockdowns, travel restrictions, and especially the reports that state gyms as high-risk areas for spreading the coronavirus have persuaded employees to abandon all their hopes on physical activities.
Physical therapists are however making it seamless for people to adopt healthy lifestyle changes and prevent musculoskeletal disorders with proper ergonomics right within their homes. Physiotherapists are experts at modifying workstations to increase efficiency and prevent or relieve pain. They can help you make some small changes to your workspace and habits that will reduce stress on your body and boost your productivity. Therefore, get ready to unlock the complete physical health benefits by prioritizing ergonomics.
What Exactly Is The Role Of Physiotherapists in Ergonomics?
Physical therapy includes the treatment of injuries caused by inadequate workplace ergonomics, therefore, physiotherapists are well aware of the causes and solutions to this. On a daily basis, physical therapists deal with several workplace injuries caused by improper posture, hunching, seating irregularities, etc. All this can result in significant damages to your physical well-being and may result in tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, neck and back injuries, bursitis, and thoracic outlet syndrome.
Ever since remote working or work from home became an active part of every employee’s life, most of them began suffering from back pain, hunch, joint aches, and much more, which are all the consequences of poor ergonomics. As more cases related to work-related musculoskeletal disorders started to emerge, physiotherapists are in a distinctive position to help remote workers address these concerns through multidisciplinary injury prevention programs, return to office programs, social awareness, ergonomics and on-site treatment.
If Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) sound too complicated for you, here’s what it means in simple terms.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are pathological damages that affect mostly the human bones, ligaments, joints, muscles, nerves, and vascular systems. This can adversely influence the overall function of the human body, preventing the body from attaining maximum efficiency. Work-related MSDs (WMSDs) are the most common type of injuries to the musculoskeletal system nowadays. Ever since the pandemic, more cases of WMSD have started to rise significantly all across the globe and which is why every employee, as well as employer, must be provided awareness of workplace ergonomics and its importance.
Enhance Your Workspace With Ergonomics: Tips From Physiotherapists
Working from home all day can take a toll on your body — even if you exercise regularly or hit the gym every week, poor ergonomics can lead to health complications. Ergonomics is about fitting the workstation to the person by first listening to their body! If you have discomfort with your workstation arrangement, do not just push through to complete the task—take some time and try to identify the source of the discomfort.
Maintain a good posture at all times
Since employees are working from home, they have the freedom to sit or work however they want. Most people tend to hunch forward and look at the computer screen whereas some like to lie down. Though these may seem comfortable to you, it can have serious implications on your posture as well as your physical well-being. For good workplace ergonomics, experts doing physiotherapy in Caledonia suggest that you should sit up straight while resting the back against your chair from time to time, but you should avoid leaning forward.
Elevate your monitor or screen
Typing on a laptop and looking at the screen too close is not ergonomically good because since the keyboard must be kept at a height easily accessible to your hands, you might have to lean forward to observe the screen. Physiotherapists recommended you purchase an additional mouse and keyboard if you are using a laptop. Also, the top portion of your screen must be right at eye level to avoid straining your neck when reading. For this, you can raise your laptop or desktop monitor by using a cardboard box or even a stack of books.
Raise your chair
If you are using an ordinary chair, it would be great to have a thin pillow beneath your seat. This can raise your sitting height as well as make it more comfortable for you while sitting for long hours. Covering the back of your chair with a soft or fluffy towel can also help make your seat feel plush. Furthermore, if your table is quite high, you can raise your seat by sitting on a soft cushion.
Use a cushion for lumbar support
Every furniture has its own unique purpose, similarly, every chair is not meant to be an office work chair. A good home office chair that prevents reclining at a certain angle and helps you maintain a straight posture is essential to avoid back pain and discomfort. If you work sitting on a dining table chair, you can try placing a soft cushion or pillow behind your back to improve lumbar support. This type of lumbar support pillows on the back of the pelvis can improve your level of convenience when seated, particularly if you have low back pain issues.
Invest in a comfortable chair and desk
Investing in a height-adjustable chair and a well-designed desk would be a great idea if you are working from home remotely, or spend most of your time at home. The online offers and fancy selection of furniture could be quite tempting, but it is imperative that you test different chair models in person before making the purchase. It is always best to go with a chair that offers a backrest which can easily adapt to the body, provide cushioned support for the arms or a curve for the spine, and also the right amount of lumbar support.
Physiotherapists can prevent and treat the growing musculoskeletal conditions within the work from home employees through education, ergonomics training, workplace safety modifications, exercise prescription and monitoring, and hands-on manual interventions. With ergonomics, physical therapists can prepare the employee to be able to perform work tasks safely to reduce costs from employers, increase productivity in the workplace, decrease WMSDs, and decrease overall absenteeism.
Physical therapy treatments have proven to be exceptionally effective and cost-efficient, such that even people who perform yoga as well as visit the gym have included physiotherapy as part of their daily life. Therefore, there is no doubt that physical therapy will play a pivotal yet expanded role in occupational health. Therapists are capable of developing efficient ergonomic and occupational health skills, especially in the musculoskeletal areas that could reinforce healthy physical well-being for every employee.
Cindy Williams is a blogger in Canada. She graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.