Reducing Tech Stress In your Home Workspace

Frustrated woman working at office

Reducing Tech Stress In your Home Workspace

While there are obvious advantages to working from home (ie, sleeping in a little longer, no daily commute, more flexibility, and staying in comfy clothes), there are also a few disadvantages (poor ergonomic set ups, family distractions, and having limited space to work…just to name a few!). These limitations often result in increased ‘tech stress’ on the body and the mind, causing increased neck and shoulder pain, low back pain, eye strain/tiredness, and difficulties concentrating and/or staying on task. While you might have to get a little creative, try implementing the following life and work style suggestions as well as ergonomic recommendations to promote health and productivity within the home.

Take movement breaks. Reduce the amount of static tension that builds up in your muscles by taking many mini breaks during the day, even if only for 5-10 minutes. Some examples: walk around the neighborhood, do brief yoga poses or stretches, maybe take time to do those physical therapy exercises that your PT encouraged you do to. Doing simple things like rolling your shoulders, looking away from the computer from time to time, and standing up frequently can go a long way. Motion is lotion. Your muscles and joints (and brain) will appreciate many mini movement breaks! Check out this stretch and posture break designed for those working at a computer/desk all day.

Hydrate and Rejuvenate. This seems like a simple recommendation, but are you doing it? For many people, it’s easy to take break from one screen and simply go to another (fun fact: today the US household owns 11 connected devices, including 7 screens to view online content). Step away from all the screens. You won’t regret it. Drink a glass of water. Take 3-5 slow, deep belly breaths. Sitting at a computer often creates a short, shallow breathing pattern that comes from the neck muscles vs the abdominal diaphragm. Get your abdominal diaphragm working to get more oxygen to rejuvenate your systems. Use all of that technology you have to give you reminders to breath and drink water: set your phone alarm, have Alexa remind you, or set your FitBit apps to remind you to give your body the nourishment it needs

Improve your ergonomic set up. This might be the bread and butter of this blog post. Good ergonomics means adapting your environment and workstation to fit you. Here are the key points:

Correct sitting posture at desk
  • Assume an upright posture: spine is stacked and knees and hips should be approximately 90 degrees. You may need “props” to help since chairs can sometimes feel one-size-fits-no one. Use this handy low back support designed to reduce the effort required to sit upright.
  • Support from the ground up. Supporting your feet helps ease tension in the spine, neck and shoulders. If you’re short (and frugal) and your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor, use books to bring the floor up to you. If you’ll be working from home indefinitely, invest in a foot support for a more permanent solution
Sitting posture set
  • Position your computer/screen to eye level. Your ears should remain over your shoulders and your chin lightly tucked. Modify your computer placement to make this happen. Thrifty types may choose to stack books or magazines under your computer for temporary assist. If you’re working from home for the long run, investing in something like a VariDesk might be helpful. Or for a simpler set up, try this. If you strictly work on a laptop, we recommend getting a stand for the laptop to achieve that eye level position of the screen and pair it with a wireless keyboard and mouse, so that your arm joints will be in optimal positions.
  • Alternate sitting and standing. When in standing, the same posture rules apply (spine stacked, hips/knees/ankles in line, ears over shoulders, chin lightly tucked). Wear supportive shoes or invest in a mat that adds support for your feet, spine, and hips.
  • Pay attention to hands/wrists/elbows. When typing, try to achieve a neutral position for the wrists and 90 degrees of elbow bend. If you’re using a laptop, try adding a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse to reduce stress/strain on the wrists.

If you’re suffering from symptoms related to “office syndrome” (or in this case, “home office syndrome”), including headaches and neck pain, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, or a general increase in achiness/fatigue, then it’s probably time to make some positive changes. Posture is dynamic. Home ergonomic set ups are dynamic. And life is dynamic. Make the most out of life, even when it’s lived within the walls of your own home!

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Covid-19 Notice

06/09/2020 Covid-19 Notice:

Our clinics are open for in-clinic physical therapy visits, telemedicine physical therapy visits and virtual Pilates sessions. This allows us to comply as much as possible with the phased reopening of WA State, while also meeting our obligation as essential infrastructure workers. For in clinic treatment, the PT will wear a mask and patient needs to wear a mask of their own, social distancing is observed throughout the clinic and rigorous cleaning guidelines will be followed. At times during your treatment, it may not be possible for your PT to observe social distancing, such as during certain manual therapy techniques. The need for in-clinic treatment vs. telehealth treatment will be a joint determination between you and your PT. You may review our Covid-19 Exposure Control, Mitigation and Recovery Plan for the details of how we provide safe in-person care.

We are grateful for and support all of our clients who have been able to march and protest in support of Black Lives Matter. In order to continue to provide the safest clinic experience possible for our clients and providers, we are asking that any client who has participated in a march or protest do one of the following: 1.) Switch to telehealth visits for 14 days. 2.) Get tested for Covid-19 and provide us with negative results. Note that Seattle's mayor has cleared the way for those who march to get tested without symptoms and encourages participants to get tested. 3.) Wait 14 days after marching/protesting to return to the clinic. Thank you for understanding that this policy is in place to allow us to meet our responsibility to all clients, which is to do no harm.

We remain passionate about helping you improve and maintain the function of your movement system so that you can do the activities you love. We invite you to follow/Like our  Facebook page, where I am offering complimentary weekly Pilates mat class on Fridays at 7am. All are welcome to participate in these classes or view them anytime on our Facebook page.

Please contact me directly with any questions or concerns. Be in touch with your PT to schedule your physical therapy visit. We are available via clinic phone (206-535-7356) and email (elizabeth@elizabethrogerspt.com). We will update you here and our Facebook page as things change.

Thank you for your support of this small, locally-owned physical therapy private practice!

Elizabeth Rogers, PT

Owner, Elizabeth Rogers Pilates & Physical Therapy, PLLC