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Working from home has become the new normal for many employees during COVID-19. While there are benefits from not having to commute to a job everyday, there can be downsides to having a living space double as an office. Working at a computer can lead to a variety of wellness challenges and can trigger posture, back, and neck pain. GHC-SCW Physical Therapist Gina Droessler, PTA, CSCI, CPI provides some tips and tricks on how to minimize lower back pain when working from home. 

Why does sitting at a desk for too long cause back pain?

 Bodies are made to move! Oftentimes, workstations are not set up correctly which results in putting an extra strain on muscles. When muscles are fatigued they send out an alert in the form of pain signals.

What are some stretches members can do to combat back pain?

There are a few stretches that desk workers should be doing every day. Click HERE to access a PDF digital download of how to correctly complete these suggested stretches. 

How often should members take standing breaks if they work at a desk?

Best practice would be every thirty to sixty minutes. Make an effort to get up and move. Walk around  and do stretches above if experiencing muscle fatigue or tightness.  Also, make sure to drink a lot of water which can encourage regular standing breaks when getting up to use the bathroom.

Any tips on how to set up a work from home area to minimize potential pain?

Setting up a workstation correctly is important to fit the needs of each unique body.  Click HERE for a PDF ergonomic self-evaluation to check the effectiveness of your workstation. 

When should a member see a provider regarding body or back pain?

When the pain starts affecting daily activities it’s time to reach out to your provider. Constant pain may suggest a plateau that will not get better without professional help. The sooner a member can contact our PT/OT department, the quicker they can start to feel better! 

Click HERE to learn more about PT/OT at GHC-SCW! 

There are so many fad diet and exercise plans that promote a variety of rules about how to be “healthy”. The sheer number of choices can be very overwhelming and hard to maintain. The truth is that at least 30 minutes of movement a day is enough to provide some wellness benefits. GHC-SCW Physical Therapist Gina Droessler, PTA, CSCI, CPI outlines more information on why daily movement is important and doesn’t have to be irritating! 

How much movement should a member really get each day?

Try to get at least 30 minutes of movement every day. The great news is that it is just as beneficial to take two 15 minute movement breaks, three 10 minute breaks or complete all 30 minutes at one time. It doesn’t matter how the time is divided, just focus on actually finishing! 

What are some options to get in a good workout while still staying socially distanced?

When the weather is nice, take advantage and get outside! A simple walk or run is a great way to stay moving. It doesn’t need to be complicated. 

Is it possible to get physically fit at home without going to a stocked gym?

You can get physically fit anywhere. Some people might feel more challenged in a group setting due to competitive class factors. But anyone can get a good workout at home with minimal equipment. Using body weight and free weights can even be more effective than machines.

What are some simple items members can get to enhance their home workout experience?

A full-length mirror can be purchased for under $20 at Target or WalMart and can be extremely helpful to check posture and exercise form. A set of dumbbells in weights ranging from 5 to 15 pounds are a great investment and can be bought for a range of prices. Finally, a cost-effective set of resistance bands are an awesome tool. The exercise can be easier or harder depending on where the bands are held!

Are there any low or no cost fitness apps or websites that you recommend? 

Click HERE for a PDF of some great options. 

For members who have very busy schedules – what are some tips to incorporate healthy movement into their regular day?

When commuting to work or doing errands always park far away from the entrance. It’s a small thing, but can result in many extra steps. Drink more water throughout the day for another reason to get up to visit the bathroom more. Take a walk during half of a lunch break. Little bursts of exercise are helpful too, like standing on one leg while brushing teeth or waiting for the microwave. Do squats or jog in place during commercials or while on hold on a call.  

Click HERE to learn more about PT/OT at GHC-SCW!

 

 

During COVID-19, it can be hard to prioritize wellness. The CDC suggests that employers implement a worksite wellness program for a potential to “increase employees’ productivity, reduce absenteeism, and increase morale”.  This can be difficult to facilitate if your employees are primarily working from home due to COVID-19. GHC-SCW Physical Therapist Gina Droessler, PTA, CSCI, CPI has many suggestions that can help employees implement movement breaks while working at home.     

What are some fun ideas or suggestions to get employees moving at home?

Offer a virtual exercise class during lunch hour or during the 2pm slump when employees can begin to feel tired. Implementing movement challenges among departments where employees can track their steps and win prizes. Some prize ideas could be digital gift cards, subscription to a magazine or online fitness program, earned half-days, or unique company swag!  Finally, there are many great free workout routine playlists on YouTube that can be emailed out to employees as an option for them to complete at home. 

Why is it important for employees to move during the workday and how will this make them better suited to do their jobs?

Healthy employees are usually happier and more productive which is optimal for everyone! Regular movement during the workday promotes increased energy which can lead to more productivity and less time missed from work. 

Are there any at home items that employers could provide to help employees minimize potential back pain or other body aches?

There are some small changes that employers can provide that could make a big difference for employee wellness. Offer an at-home workstation ball mouse instead of digital to better support hand alignment. A lumbar support can be easily made by rolling a towel up and securing it with rubber bands or stuffing it in a nylon. Set the towel in the back of a desk chair to support the low back arch. Shorter employees can be provided with a small step stool to bring alignment to the knees. Employees should never sit with dangling, unsupported legs for long periods of time. 

Click HERE to learn more about PT/OT at GHC-SCW or click HERE to get an insurance coverage quote!