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How to Avoid Serious Back Pain While Working at Home

Your keyboard and mouse

Put your keyboard and mouse or touchpad at a comfortable height in front of you. If your laptop is raised to get your screen to the right level, then use a separate keyboard and mouse.

  • Your forearms and hands should be level and straight, and your arm should be close to the side of your body when you use a mouse.
  • The more you stretch your arm out to the side, the higher the chance of straining your neck or shoulder.
  • Don't put anything beneath your wrists as it adds compression on the finger flexor tendons and the median nerve, which increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Alternate between typing/mousing and using voice input. This gives your arms, wrists, and hands time to rest.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Avoid Serious Back Pain While Working at Home

How to Avoid Serious Back Pain While Working at Home

https://time.com/5821252/back-pain-work-from-home-tips/

time.com

10

Key Ideas

Aches and pains

With the 2020 pandemic, many people are required to stay home.

If you're one of these people, you may be noticing new aches and pains you did not experience at the office.

Ergonomic furniture

Many companies follow an ANSI-HFS standard in the design of their computer workstations, which incorporates ergonomic furniture and accessories.

Most homes don't have the space to accommodate ergonomic office furniture, nor do most people invest in it. If you're working from home using your computer on a regular table or you sit in a lounge chair or on your bed, chances are you aren't in a healthy posture. It could potentially lead to musculoskeletal injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, or even deep vein thrombosis.

Your computer screen

View your computer screen with a straight neck. Put your screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Don't look down at your screen or angle your screen, so you must twist your neck.

You may have to put the screen on a pile of books or on a cardboard box to raise it to a comfortable viewing position.

Minimize visual eye strain

Put your screen sideways to a bright window.

Unless the window has shades or drapes, don't work with your back to a window, as the light will cause glare on your screen. Similarly, don't work facing a window, as you'll stare into the light.

Viewing documents

View any paper documents with a straight neck.

Don't read from an iPad or paper that is flat on your table, as your head will constantly have to move up and down. Use a vertical document holder or put your iPad on a stand.

Your keyboard and mouse

Put your keyboard and mouse or touchpad at a comfortable height in front of you. If your laptop is raised to get your screen to the right level, then use a separate keyboard and mouse.

  • Your forearms and hands should be level and straight, and your arm should be close to the side of your body when you use a mouse.
  • The more you stretch your arm out to the side, the higher the chance of straining your neck or shoulder.
  • Don't put anything beneath your wrists as it adds compression on the finger flexor tendons and the median nerve, which increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Alternate between typing/mousing and using voice input. This gives your arms, wrists, and hands time to rest.

Sit back in your chair

Don't sit upright or hunch forward in your chair. Ensure that you can sit back in your chair while still close enough to comfortably reach your keyboard and mouse.

If the chair does not have good lower-back support, use a cushion or rolled-up towel behind your lower back.

Foot position

When sitting, rest your feet flat on either the floor. If your feet don't reach the floor, use a box, pile of books, cushion, or footrest.

Don't put your feet back underneath your chair or let them dangle, as this puts pressure under the thighs and restricts blood flow to your lower legs and feet, increasing your risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Working on your bed

Limit the time you work on your bed, as most positions cause you to hunch over.

If a bed is your only option, put a pillow behind your back to rest against the headboard. Put your laptop on a cushion in your lap.

Avoid prolonged standing

Don't try to work for hours on end standing up. Ergonomists have long recognized that standing to work requires more energy than sitting and puts a greater strain on the circulatory system, legs, and feet. Standing for extended periods of time increases the risks of varicose veins.

Stand or walk to take phone calls. Every 20 to 30 minutes, stand, stretch, and move around for a minute or two to promote circulation.

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Lighting
  • The best kind of light you can have in your office is natural light. It helps our bodies maintain our internal "clocks" or circadian rhythms which affects our sleep and energy. 
  • Poor lighting, whether it's dim lighting or harsh lighting from overhead fluorescent lights, can cause eye strain, stress, and fatigue.
  • Don't sit with your back to a window unless you can shade it.
  • Don't sit facing a window because that will make reading a monitor difficult. 
  • If you use a task lamp at your desk, position it so the bottom of the lampshade is at about the height of your chin when it's on.
Plants
  • Indoor plants prevent fatigue during attention-demanding work. 
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  • Cacti and aloe plants are other low-maintenance plants to consider.

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  • According to the World Health Organization, Burnout is classified as an occupational phenomenon, also known as vital exhaustion.
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How we're sitting
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The tendency to slump

If you tend to slump, you need to learn to lengthen your back. Use the time that you're sitting to stretch yourself against the backrest.

  • Sit with your bottom well back in your chair while moving your upper body away from the backrest.
  • Place your fists on the front lower border of your rib cage, then gently push back on your rib cage so as to elongate your lower back.
  • Then, grab some place of your chair and make yourself taller by gently pushing the top of you away from the bottom.
  • In that position, put your back against the chair's backrest. Ideally, the chair would have some grippy thing mid-back to hold you.
A healthier back

For a healthier back, develop the "inner corset" core strength: the group of core muscles that support your spine. Crunches are not the best exercises for this purpose as they also crunch your discs and nerves.

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Keeping fit

Everyone is stressed at the moment and are not sleeping well. Exercise can decrease stress and anxiety. Moving will likely improve your sleep.

Who can exercise
  • If you are under 70 with no underlying conditions, you can walk the dog, go for a run or a bike ride, provided you keep your distance.
  • If you are over 70 and self-isolating, or pregnant, or having an underlying health condition but feel well, you can also go outside for exercise while keeping your distance.
  • If you have symptoms, or someone in your household has them, it is essential to use movement and activity while isolating yourself.
  • If you are unwell, use your energy to get better, but not to be active.
  • If you are feeling better after having had the virus, return to your regular routine gradually.
Chair tricep dips
  • Sit on the edge of a chair holding onto the front with your hands.
  • Place your feet out in front of you (bent legs for easier option or straight legs to make it harder)
  • Lower your elbows to a 90-degree angle before pushing back up.

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Clear communication

The key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually or may not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers.

To prevent a breakdown in communication, you need to know exactly what's expected of you from day-to-day. Ask your boss for a 10-minute video call to start and end the day. Reach out to coworkers and managers regularly so that you won't get forgotten.

Treat it like a real job
  • Don't lounge around in your pajamas. Treat it like a real job.
  • Create a space exclusively for work that is removed from distractions, just like you would at your office desk.
  • Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand when you're 'at work.'
  • Bookend your day. If you can't enter and leave a physical office that creates more precise boundaries, use psychological transitions like a 20-minute coffee in the morning, then exercise right after work.

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Keep the Same Schedule

To give your day structure, keep the same routine as when you went into an office. Get up at the same time and make a to-do list. Check in with the same person every morning.

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Set Boundaries

Pick a place for your office away from distraction.
Boundaries also apply to other people who may be sharing the same space. Children can work alongside you as if they were coming to the office.

Schedule Breaks

You won't have the same cues as you do from your workplace to remind you to get up or get lunch. When you lose the pace of your day, everything can start to blend together.

Treat your exercise, meals and stretch breaks as you would any other meeting. Put it on your calendar, at least to start.

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Psychological Effects of Working from Home
  • Loneliness and isolation. And loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms like random pain.
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Symptoms of Depression
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even with unimportant matters.
  • Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy for even the smallest activities.
  • Increased cravings for food.
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Avoiding people.
Take Care of Your Mental Health

...while working from home:

  • Create a schedule and stick to it. Scheduling your tasks (and breaks) will help you to mentally prepare for the day.
  • Have a dedicated comfortable workspace, with a door that closes, preferably.
  • Fight the urge to stay sedentary and schedule active time to get your heart pumping.
  • Foster social connections (on the phone or via the internet, if physical contact is not possible).
  • Learn to say no. Know your limitations, set boundaries based on your schedule and workload, and don’t extend yourself beyond them.
Organize your workspace
Organize your workspace
  • Adopt a clean-desk policy (CDP).
  • Create a dedicated space for the incoming things.
  • Keep personal items to a minimum.

  • Get yourself a si...

Colors influence productivity
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  • Yellow: The sunny shade stimulates creativity.
  • Purple: Stimulates problem solving abilities.
  • Green: Calms the mind, causes zero strain to the eye and is ideal for those who spend long hours in the office.
  • Orange: Boosts social interaction and collaboration.
Get the Wii Fit

... to play games that require balancing and movement. 

Playing any games while standing up is also an alternative, as sitting all day is bad for us.

Test Your Posture

Test your back and neck posture against a wall or check proper posture illustrations to find any areas you need to work on when standing. 

Be more aware of your feet when you’re standing and adjust your weight so it’s distributed evenly across both feet.

Core Strengthening Exercises

Do pilates and other core strengthening exercises to help you stand taller and maintain a proper posture. 

Yoga also does that and emphasizes body awareness and balance.

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Going all-in on remote work: benefits for businesses
Going all-in on remote work: benefits for businesses

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Defining roles for a remote work setting

Businesses can categorize employees:

  • Location-independent. Knowledge workers are not dependent on location and don't need to be in an office.
  • Location-frequent. These people spend half their time in an office and half remote. They need an in-person base to use for coordination and physical meetings. These are often salespeople, marketing people, back-office services (IT, HR, finance), and creative jobs.
  • Mandatory in-office jobs. These involve specialized equipment that you can't put in an employee's home, such as manufacturing jobs.

Far more job functions can be done remotely if company leadership will accept it. But, remote work is not for everyone. Some jobs are tied to physical locations or equipment. Some people also do not want to work from home.

Equipping remote workers

In-office employees that transition to remote work need to be equipped. Spending recommendations are:

  • A one-time stipend to purchase some office furniture and other miscellaneous work equipment.
  • Basic ergonomic training.
  • The same class of laptop or workstation they'd get in the office.
  • A monthly stipend to offset some or all home broadband costs.
  • IT support costs.
  • Basic, yet complete tech loadout, such as laptop, secondary monitor, mouse, keyboard, wired earbuds, USB hub, chair that meets ergonomic needs.

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