What the Tech? Working from Home Leads to Physical Fatigue
Call it Zoom-itus, or ‘Quarantine-screen’ but many people say countless hours staring at a computer screen is the worst thing about working from home.
We may have taken for granted those strolls around the office before the safe-at-home orders began last spring. Now, many of
us are paying the price for not standing up from a desk and walking around the room.
Dr. Alec Dragelin, a chiropractor says he’s seeing more and more new patients suffering from aches and pains they’ve never experienced before working remotely.
“We started seeing a huge uptick in conditions related to folks just being more and more sedentary. The two biggest conditions have been neck related issues and back related issues as well.”
It’s no wonder really. If you start the day with a staff meeting over Zoom that lasts an hour, then continue staring at a screen answering emails and doing reports, then another Zoom meeting or two in the afternoon, before we realize it, we haven’t moved from the same position for hours.
If you’re wearing a fitness tracker or smartwatch, go ahead and compare your steps today with a day last October. Have you gone from 10,000 steps to just 500? It isn’t that unusual.
One of the things causing some of the aches and pains is staring down at a laptop that’s sitting either on our lap or on a desk.
That puts pressure or a strain on our neck. One solution is raising the laptop to eye-level. This will improve the look of a Zoom or Google Meet call while making us more comfortable. The problem is that by raising a laptop to eye level, we’ll have to raise our hands to type on the keyboard.
A standing desk will help but Dragelin says even that can cause issues if we’re standing for hours. It’s best, he says to stand for a while then sit. Most traditional office desks don’t allow for that so you might want to invest in a standing desk that moves to a sitting position at the touch of a button. These generally cost around $300-$500.
Another option is to buy a Bluetooth keyboard for the laptop and place the computer on a few books, raising it to eye level.
Then, use the Bluetooth keyboard which will allow for your hands to be in a comfortable position. Wireless Bluetooth keyboards start at around $30.
The important thing, Dr. Dragelin says, is don’t stay in the same position for a long time.
“It’s the lack of changing positions, the lack of movement that’s really causing some of the biggest issues that we’re seeing,” he said. “The key is, regardless of where your laptop or camera is positioned, as long as you’re making an effort to change that, it should go pretty well.”
He suggests that we take mini-breaks throughout the workday every 20 minutes or so. He says just a few laps around the room will help alleviate any pain caused by sitting for a long time.
He also suggests taking longer breaks and go for a walk. Doing that, he says, will not only help eliminate aches and pains but will also keep you alert and productive.