For many Minnesotans, working from home has become a new normal in the pandemic.
Physical therapists say that if you haven’t converted your home office space to promote good posture, your body will start showing signs. Typing a work memo from your couch in comfy clothes might sound appealing.
Dr. Russell Amundson, UnitedHealthcare’s national senior medical director, countered that it’s important to maintain a home office environment that doesn’t involve constantly slouching or staring at a screen.
“There has been a shift towards telecommuting,” Amundson explained. “People have given up on, or been taken out of, more ergonomic workspaces with good office chairs, with good support, and of course, the appropriate height desk.”
He advised the ideal approach includes sitting up straight with knees at a 90 degree angle. And if you work on a computer, adjust the height of the screen to eye level. Being consistent can help avoid back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis.
A study 2016 found nearly 130 million American adults are affected by a musculoskeletal condition that can affect bones, joints and muscles.
Other health experts say working from home could also discourage people from being active during a break.
Paul Stokman, a physical therapist at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, said prolonged sitting stresses the body.
“We just don’t maintain tissue health as much over time,” Stokman pointed out. “We need that swing and that activity. We need to stress our bodies and relax. We need to get up and move.”
He suggested setting an alert on your phone or computer to remind you to move. Even if you have existing back pain, the medical community has said that low impact activities can still be helpful as opposed to resting.
Before the reopening of certain offices, state officials said last year that about 600,000 Minnesotans were telecommuting as the pandemic continued.
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