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Working at Home Can Be a Real Pain

Working at Home Can Be a Real Pain

In the year of the pandemic, there’s another health threat disrupting many lives, and being sheltered at home is a cause, not a deterrent. It may not have the lethal potential of COVID-19, but it does have harmful consequences as chiropractors across the country are reporting, according the American Chiropractic Association.

If you are among the more than 40 percent of working Americans who can still do their jobs remotely by staying at home, you may have already discovered it’s a pain in the neck— and the back as well. It may not be as dramatic as home front injuries like falling off ladders and mishaps working with tools, but sitting and working hours on end on a computer is taking its toll in musculoskeletal injuries and stresses.

The laptop is being labeled Public Enemy No. 1 in this outbreak, which has given rise to the term “laptop-itis,” whose painful and aching symptoms are most pronounced in neck and back, with arms, wrists and fingers also affected. It is really not the laptop itself that is the super spreader in this lifestyle—make that workstyle— epidemic. It comes down to how you use your laptop away from what may be the more ergonomic environment of the office.

It may seem something of a luxury to stay at home and flop down in an easy chair with a pillow on your lap as a makeshift desk. If that’s a little too comfy to keep you sharp and focused on the task at hand, you may prefer to sit with your laptop poised on, of all places, your lap.

Even before the tremendous increase in numbers working at home, there was growing concern about the typical workstation in most offices— the desk and computer— and how it has compromised, among other factors, good posture. The stereotypical working posture was bending toward the computer monitor, head hanging forward like a pumpkin on a vine, exerting tremendous force on the spine from the neck down. The weight of the human head is equivalent to a bowling ball. Try holding a 10-to-12-pound bowling ball straight out in front of you for just five minutes and you get an idea of the stress on your neck over the span of hours.

Working at home is often seen as an opportunity to get away from a desk to a cozier environment, introducing more and different kinds of strain down the spine and into attendant muscles in the upper body and lower back. Those kinds of posture busters include:

  • Sitting casually is a position that causes you to twist your posture or drop your head, chin almost touching your chest, to view the screen while manipulating the keyboard…
  • Any posture that requires an extreme forward head position to use your laptop…
  • Lying back on a couch, recliner or bed with the laptop propped in a position that requires your head to pull forward, literally fighting gravity and causing incredible strain in what is anything but a relaxed posture…
  • Sitting, sitting and more sitting. The body requires movement to remain flexible and avoid repetitive trauma that results in what are known as “overuse injuries”…

Chiropractors are finding themselves on the front lines in bringing relief to a growing army of stay-at-home workers suffering from neck, back and related pain. With treatment you can expect educated advice at Montvale Health Sport + Spine about maintaining a healthy posture and regimen that will make you feel better and increase your job efficiency.


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