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How WFH Is Affecting Our Health

When the pandemic hit, the world shutdown and we were all suddenly forced to work from home, none of us thought that it would be for very long. Fast forward over a year and many of us are still in the same situation with lots of companies now making the decision to close offices for good and adopt the work from home approach going forward.

Whilst many have enjoyed the freedom that working from home allows, no early morning commutes, later morning alarms and casual dress from the waist down, what a lot of us haven’t enjoyed is our work from home set up.

Because we only imagined this to be a temporary fix, not many people invested in creating a comfortable environment for work within our homes.

But statistics gathered by Finder, show that 60% of the UK’s adult population are still currently working from home due to the Coronavirus lockdown and a further 26% of Brits plan to continue to work from home permanently, or occasionally after lockdown.

We do believe that a more comfortable set up does lead to more productivity but our key concern when it comes to working from home is that a lot of people are spending their entire day hunched over a computer screen from their beds, perched on uncomfortable dining room chairs or on dated, long forgotten swivel chairs that they rescued from the corner of the attic last march.

As time goes on the negative health effects of this are beginning to come to light and many of us are beginning to struggle with back ache.

While some companies are striving to ensure that the ergonomic office furniture they have collated can be sent to employees to improve their work from home environment, this is not the case for everyone and purchasing such items for yourself is a big investment which is simply not feasible for many.

With this in mind, Rachel Brammer, Physiotherapist and clinical lead at Virtue Health, recently shared her tips to improve your WFH set up with Metro UK.

Her tips are as follows:

  1. Ensure your lower back is supported Lower back pain – that’s any kind of persistent discomfort in the area between your coccyx and mid-spine – was reported as the number one complaint by newbie WFH-ers in the early days of the first lockdown. The usual cause of lower back pain is sitting in a chair that does not provide adequate support (hint: your kitchen chairs probably doesn’t cut it). Investing in an ergonomic, height-adjustable desk chair with lumbar support is highly advisable for anyone who is spending long periods of time sitting down. You should be looking for a chair that curves slightly forwards at belly-button level, as this mirrors the natural curve of your spine. If however this isn’t feasible,  improvise by placing a small pillow at the small of your back to support the curvature.
  2. Relax your shoulders Turn your attention to your shoulders right now. Are you tensing them? Chances are they are not fully relaxed, and one may even be higher than the other. As any physiotherapist (or masseuse) will tell you, holding stress or tension in your shoulders has many knock-on physical effects. As well as causing stiffness in the shoulder area, it will also trigger aches in your arms, upper back, spine and neck. To alleviate a cause of the tension, seek out a chair with wide, 90-degree arm rests, and a hands-free headset for phone calls and virtual meetings.
  3. Give your working environment a makeover Not surprisingly, the physical features of your workspace are just as important to your health and well-being as your actual desk setup. Research has proven that a clutter-free, naturally lit room helps us to remain calm, positive, alert and focused. So, avoid basement or window-free rooms if possible, and seek out spaces that are bright, well ventilated and temperature controlled.  The introduction of plants into your WFH space has also been proven to have a beneficial impact on your mental health; both because of their oxygen-supplying qualities and their calming aesthetic impact. If you live in a busy urban area, noise-cancelling headphones and an air-purifier will enhance your quality of life and health even further.

While we all hold out hope that the roadmap to normal life is soon to be completed and we might actually rejoice at the reintroduction of the morning commute, if you are particularly struggling with back pain due to working from home you should visit a doctor, but we do also suggest trying our Back Stretcher with Acupressure and our shock related Orthotic Insoles to alleviate some of this pain.