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How To Remain Pain Free Whilst Working From Home: Physiotherapy Tips

Within a couple of weeks, most people have gone from having a daily routine and commuting to their workplace to working from home (many for the first time) to respect social distancing. There has been little time to prepare the ‘perfect home office’ and you may be struggling to get your head around it all, so we have complied a few top tips to keep you pain free whilst working from home.

1) Movement is key! Research has shown that there is no ‘perfect posture’, instead move regularly to avoid any position for prolonged periods. We advise moving every 20 minutes for a microbreak whether that is sitting to stand from your chair a few times, walking around the room or standing to have a drink of water. Also try walking to the bathroom furthest away from you if you are lucky enough to have more than one bathroom in your house.

2) Make a DIY standing desk. As we have just learnt moving position is paramount so making a DIY standing desk is important! Try and find something you can put your laptop or screen on which is elbow height around the house, maybe your ironing board, a set of drawers or your kitchen counter. If this is your first time using a standing desk start gently, Public Health England and Active Working C.I.C 2015 recommend standing for one hour for every 3 hours sat initially and building up as able.  The most physical benefits are shown to be during the switch of position (which goes back to why it is good to move every 20 minutes).

3) Use your lunchbreak! It is now more important than ever to move during your lunch break, whether that be going for a run, a walk or following one of the many free workouts online.  Be mindful of how much movement is lost by not commuting to work- shorter walks to the bathroom, not having to leave your house to go buy lunch, no walk to/from work to your mode of transport and plan to make that up during your daily walk and exercise. Now is a good time to make sure you are achieving as close to the 10,000 steps recommended by the Government as you can.

Remember that variety in your choice of exercise is key to avoid any overuse injuries and to ensure all muscle groups are targeted (we have noticed a significant increase in running related injuries from our online consultations since lockdown). 

4) Have good desk ergonomics. There are no strict guidelines as your comfort is paramount, however, there are a few tips which could help whilst at your desk (look at our above photo). Try and make sure that your screen is central and arm's length away, with the top of your screen at eye level.  Also, move everything you use regularly towards you, for example, your mouse, keyboard and phone so your wrists, elbows and shoulders can relax. If you have a laptop, you ideally need a separate keyboard so you can raise your laptop screen height to avoid excessive cervical flexion throughout the day. 

5) Sit comfortably. Not many people have as a supportive chair at home as they do in their workplace, so be mindful of that and try and move even more then you would have done. Ideally you want a chair where your hips are higher than your knees (no working on sofas please!) and make sure you get your buttocks right to the back of the chair. You can also roll up a towel or a jumper and place it in the small of your back to provide some additional lumbar spine support. Then relax...make sure your neck, shoulders and elbows are comfortable. 

6) Exercise whilst at your computer. There are lots of exercises you can do whilst at your computer to help stimulate blood flow and lengthen muscles, both of which are key components to helping prevent injury/pain. We recommend doing a few every hour, here are a some to try; thoracic twists, arching your lower back, sit to stand and squatting to your chair a few times. You may also have a Swiss Ball to switch to for a few hours to increase trunk muscle activation, remind you to stretch or relieve any back pain. We have a video coming with a lot more exercise ideas so keep an eye out!

7) Reminders- There is enough change currently that trying to remember and follow the above may be difficult. Try setting an alarm on your phone for every 20 minutes to prompt you to move or you could try putting a post-it note on your computer screen or water glass/bottle as a reminder.

Lastly, try and see this period as a time of joy.  Yes, we may have to work from home, but we also have more quality time to spend with our families, less distractions, and (hopefully) more time to sleep now we are no longer commuting. If you would like any further advice or have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

Wishing healthiness and happiness,

The Verbier Touch Team

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