EUGENE, Ore. -- While some are returning to the office after working from home during the pandemic, others have been getting work done on the couch for well over a year now, which experts say can contribute to pain if done without attention and care.
Oregon Medical Group physical therapist Ryan Embley said people working from home have moved from ergonomic chairs and standing desks at the office to non-traditional workspaces on the kitchen table or couch. He said that may be contributing to an increase in tightness in the hips, upper back, neck and shoulders that his patients have reported.
"When it comes to ergonomics, we definitely have these systems that are in place that help our bodies tolerate the things we are asking them to do," he said. "When we sustain positions for a long time, then we develop abnormal movement patterns and abnormal muscle imbalances, which then can cause compensation patterns which can overall then can cause pain."
Even in a nice office chair, Embley said that slumping and slouching can result in pain and tightness. He recommends keeping your posture active by changing positions or locations whenever you find yourself slouching.
"It's not that you can't sit on the couch or sit at the dinner table or use your laptop. But sometimes it just means moving," he said.
The lack of movement around the office can also lead to a feeling of stiffness, according to Embley. Instead of walking to the watercooler or to a coworker's desk, walking to the mailbox or around the house can be a good replacement.
If you're experiencing pain and stiffness while working from home, Embley said that booking an appointment with a physical therapist is a good way to find a solution.
"What's somebody's posture? How can we adapt the movement pattern? What's the muscle imbalance that has created this stiffness in someone's spine or back," he said.