Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many people have shifted to working or studying from home. Our new normal for our office workstations has become our dining room tables, living room couches and if we are lucky, a desk in a spare room. With this new work environment came the BOOM in online meetings via applications such as ZOOM, MS Teams, Google Meets, etc. We have also started using smaller devices like tablets and cell phones to make these calls and meetings more convenient for ourselves.
However, making things more convenient has made it harder on our bodies. Over the past few months, we have seen a fair number of people complaining of neck pain, upper back pain, headaches, and shoulder pain. What most of these people have in common are the poor postures they have started to engage in since lock-down and working on devices at home. We have been really good at changing our workstations in our offices, but all that went out the window when our offices moved to our homes.
As Biokineticists we assess people's posture daily and treat people with poor posture with corrective rehabilitation exercises. So, what do we see with extended periods of time in front of our devices?
Commonly people have this forward neck posture (like in the picture), putting strain on the neck bones and muscles. Working in front of laptops and on tablet screens, our, shoulders drop forward causing a rounding in the upper back, tightening the chest muscles, lengthening the upper back muscles that are designed to help to support your spine and your neck.
We commonly call this a kyphotic posture. This in turn can place even more pressure on the lower back to work hard and be strained. This poor posture can also lead to headaches, neck pain, muscle fatigue, muscle tightness and even shoulder pain.
So... how can you improve this? Check out our blog post on Ergonomics to find out.
Importantly if you experience any type of symptoms of neck, upper back, shoulder pains or referral pains into your head or arms, you should see a medical professional to be correctly diagnosed.
Do not assume the problem is your workstation and that Dr Google will help you treat the problem.