New data by the Office of National Statistics has shown an 8% increase of people working exclusively from home since October, as employees and organisations alike hunker down for an unpredictable winter weathering the COVID-19 storm.
This year, millions of people across the Nation have swapped offices for armchairs, and desks for their dining tables. Working from home has become normality for many and it doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon, with 40% of employers predicting a permanent shift to home working even after the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people working from home do not have a dedicated workspace, leading to innovative make-shift solutions which may be taking a toll on posture and physical wellbeing. Whereas offices are typically kitted out to ergonomically support your body whilst at work, sitting immobile for long periods of time at home can put a strain on your joints and muscles, causing aches and pains to creep in. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. A study by BUPA showed that as many as two-thirds of British homeworkers are in pain as a result of their adapted workspaces.
Discomfort is your body’s way of getting your attention to prevent serious damage, so should not be ignored. Poor posture puts increased strain on muscles in your neck and back, as they are forced to work harder supporting the weight of your head. Efforts by the immune system to restore these tired muscles can cause inflammation, which over time could lead to arthritis of nearby joints.
Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes and space adaptions can transform your workplace well-being and comfort, whilst protecting your long-term joint health.
Start your day with a stretch
Try to incorporate a good daily stretch into your morning routine. Just a few minutes manipulating the joints you use the most such as your back, knees, hips and elbows, will warm them up for the day ahead and help protect against injury.
Are you sitting comfortably?
When spending long periods of the day sat at a desk, it’s important to check the height of your chair. Too low and it will put pressure on your knees and hips as you bend to get in and out of it. However, if it is too high it will cause your back and neck to ache as you hunch over to write or type. Ideally, you should be able to sit on your chair with your legs firmly on the ground and elbows rested comfortably on the table at a 90-degree angle.
Make space work for you
The human head isn’t designed to stare downwards for long hours at a time and these prolonged periods of neck flexion and poor posture can lead to back pain and stiffness. Ensure that your computer screen is at eye level while sitting up with your back straight. If working from a laptop you can improvise by propping it up on a stack of books, while investing in a remote keyboard to reduce hunching over.
Supplement your diet
Consider taking a joint pain supplement to protect and restore affected joints. A supplement that has shown a lot of promise in recent years is the Galactolipid GOPO, a key component of rose-hip, proven to effectively reduce joint pain. Recent research into active, healthy adults also found that 12 weeks of GOPO supplementation led to improved mobility, whilst potentially helping to reduce the degeneration of cartilage.
Practise Perfect Posture
Sitting and standing up straight allows your muscles and skeletal system to work together and puts less everyday strain on your joints. Imagine an invisible line that passes from the top of your head to your shoulders and hips. Every now and again take a moment to consider how you’re sitting while at work – you’ll be surprised how quickly you slip back into bad habits.
Don’t be static
Remember to take time throughout the day to move around and keep your joints feeling limber and mobile. Whether it be a short walk during lunch, or a lap of the garden while your tea brews – even short periods of activity helps to encourage blood flow, decrease stiff muscles and relieve tired joints, all whilst keeping you mentally fresh and focused.
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