Your work from home setup may cause back, shoulder injuries

Businesses order employees to work from home amid coronavirus concerns

Is your work from home set up less than ideal? New research shows that it can be worth the investment to improve it in order to prevent injuries.

With many workers across the country home from offices for the foreseeable future amid the ongoing pandemic, Kermit Davis, an expert in office ergonomics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, found that static posture or position could lead to injuries in your neck, back and shoulders.

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“The body doesn’t like static postures continually,” Davis said in a statement. “You don’t want to do all sitting or all standing all the time. You want to alter your position and change it up throughout the day.”

As the coronavirus outbreak quickly brought things to a halt months ago, employees scrambled to convert dining rooms, kitchen tables or even the couch into their main office space. However, without guidance on making these spaces ergonomically safe, these setups could be causing injuries.

Here’s what Davis recommends: when working from home, it’s good practice to break every 30 minutes. Trying getting up to move in order to minimize the chance of back and shoulder stress and injuries.

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“You can go home but you aren’t allowed to take the monitor, chair and most office equipment,” Davis said. “You can use your laptop from home, but it is designed to be a short-term option. It should be used for a few hours while traveling. It is not meant to be used for eight or nine hours each day.”

Davis conducted research that surveyed nearly 850 people working remotely. In his assessment, Davis found many people had chairs that were either too high or too low. He also found that 69% of people working from home did not have proper back support on their chairs and even more did not have adequate lumbar support.

“The position of a computer monitor was often too low or off to the side. Three quarters of monitors were laptops, which were too low relative to the workers’ eye height,” Davis’ study found.

But to make your work from home setup more ergonomically sound, you don’t have to shell out big bucks.

Davis recommends things like placing a pillow on your chair to elevate yourself to the right height, using a rolled towel as lumbar support and placing a pillow under your laptop when using it on your lap, so it isn’t too low.