The world has been turned upside down by COVID-19 and the world of physical therapy has not been spared. As a physical therapist who has worked with patients from the tech-driven Bay Area for over a decade, I have educated and helped many patients improve their computer and workstation ergonomics through postural corrections, equipment changes, and by modifying activities to improve a patient’s pain and dysfunction.
As COVID-19 virus literally went “viral”, Therapydia made the tough decision to close our doors to in-person visits in accordance with San Francisco’s Shelter-In-Place Order. We, as a team, also thought it would be better for the general health of our region if we did not become vectors for virus transmission to our patients and families. With that decision, our team had to make a quick turnaround to providing our services over virtual platforms. And with that transition, we “active” PTs used to working in a clinic had to set up laptops at home and figure out optimal ergonomic setups–some successful, some not!
As we set up our virtual clinics and began more than usual hours in front of computer screens, we all began feeling similar symptoms as those that our patients would report to us over the years! Just like our patients, we didn’t have proper office chairs and are now working for extended periods of time at our kitchen counter or hunched over a coffee table–positions that it are not ideal for our bodies and overall health. Fortunately we could utilize our extensive knowledge of biomechanics and ergonomics and finally put our student loan money to good work on ourselves! We have begun to walk in your shoes and now present to you our confessions and our solutions!
Greg Ohanessian, PT
Low back pain from sitting in a flexed posture:
My dining room table looked like the best place to set up my home office. Unfortunately, my dining room chairs are lower than I thought and my hips were positioned at the same height as my knees, leading to a posterior pelvic tilt. This flexed my spine more than usual which increased stress and strain on my lumbar spine discs. As I stood up I noticed an increase in pain in my low back.
1)Find a taller chair to have my hips above my knees to lessen the flexion load on my spine
2) Sit on a pillow to raise my hips above my knees
If you’re working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you might find that your makeshift office is a literal pain in the neck. Check back often for more solutions to combating aches and pains from transitioning to working from home.