The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes in the ways now professionals work. Operating from the leisure of home has its benefits; however, there are repercussions as well. Many of us are likely working from home and witnessing health problems such as joint pains. Research highlights a significant prevalence of back pain in the UAE with some 60% of residents affected by it. Although, as almost 38% of professionals in the Middle East expressed their wish to continue working in full-time remote mode, it raises concerns about their musculoskeletal health. Spending hours sitting on a chair in front of your laptop screens can have adverse effects on your spine, neck, shoulders, and even your hip joints. But the good news is that these conditions can be prevented.

Common orthopedic conditions one might experience while working from home

1. Shoulder pain

Being the most mobile joints of your body, shoulders are engaged in a lot of motion. And thus, are more at risk of undergoing injuries. While the majority of shoulder pains should be temporary and due to the prolonged sitting period, if the pain persists, it might indicate some serious condition.

2. Neck pain

In most cases, neck pain occurs because of poor posture. Other causes could be working on a desk without changing your position for a long time or the bad position of your neck while sleeping. Gentle neck massage or applying ice should provide some relief.

3. Back pain

Back pain is one of the common problems faced by a lot of people, including people working from home or office. The reason for this can be attributed to prolonged sitting, sitting, or sleeping in an uncomfortable position. If the condition does not get better with rest, maybe it is time to see a doctor.

4. Hip pain

Hip pain or stiffness in or around the hip joint can be a result of your awkward posture, overuse, or muscle stiffness. Using ice packs and resting can relax your muscles and ease some pain.

Tips for joint care while working from home

1. Set up a proper workplace

To prevent joint pains, you must have a well-established workplace. When working from home, you might find it tempting to work sitting on the couch or bed. But this can harm your neck and back. You can invest in some inexpensive equipment that can help you create a suitable and safe place to work adequately. Keep in mind to place your screen close to eye level, while sitting straight.

2. Keep moving

Unlike your office space, you may not have the opportunity to move while working home and you may end up spending hours sitting tight at one place. However, movement is essential for your joints. Maybe you can walk during a call, or set an hourly alarm that will remind you to get up and move.

3. Stretch every once in a while

Stretching is necessary for your joints and muscles. It helps to release muscle tension. Make time in between your work to spend time on stretching and relaxing your muscles. You can try these ergonomic stretching

  • Neck – for neck pain you can rotate your head clockwise and anticlockwise. Move your head from side to side.
  • Back – to relieve back pain you can move your shoulders forward and backward. For the lower back, stand and try to reach your arms toward the ceiling.
  • Hand and wrist – typing or writing for hours can trouble your hand wrist. To ease this pain, you can extend your arms in the front and then tilt your wrist gently from side to side.

4. Perform some Yoga

Yoga is an excellent way to correct your posture and release the tension trapped in the muscles. Here are some yoga poses for a better posture:

  • Child’s pose
  • Triangle pose
  • Bridge pose
  • Boat pose
  • Warrior pose
  • Fierce pose
  • The bow
  • Cow face
  • Seated twist

5. Do not forget a healthy diet

When at home, there are possibilities that you may find yourself indulging in unhealthy snacking. However, your diet and weight play a crucial role in your joint health. To prevent this unhealthy snacking, you can try planning your meals in advance so you will not end up munching on anything or everything.  

6. Keep an eye on your posture

Incorrect posture can result in most musculoskeletal problems. Maintaining a correct posture will save you from all the trouble. Make sure you remember the Rule of 90 degrees – that is you keep your back at an angle of 90 degrees to your lower body and your knees at the same angle to your legs. This will ensure correct alignment and reduce the risk of joint pain.

7. Exercise regularly

Exercising can prove to be very helpful to prevent and even ease joint pain. Think of exercising as a way of staying healthy in the long run, not as something you do when your back hurts. Take out some time from your busy schedule for the sake of your well-being. Even 20 minutes will do. The duration of your workout does not matter, as long as you are dedicated and consistent. Engage in exercises that you like the most, so that you really enjoy them and not think of them as a compulsion.

8. Sit on the floor

If you are bored of your regular table chair set-up, you can ditch that and make yourself comfortable on the floor with some cushions and a portable table. Sitting on the floor is great for your hip. Also, it can be great for straightening your back and maintaining a nice-looking posture. If you already suffer from joint pains, especially hip, you should consult your doctor before trying this.

9. Have a break

Taking out some time for yourself is self-care and it is more important than anything. Make some time to relax your body and mind, listen to some music, and hydrate yourself. Your overall state will ultimately affect your well-being.

listen to your bones!

Try to listen to your bones and joints while you spend endless hours working on your laptops. Incorporating small changes in your routine can help you prevent major setbacks in the future. No one is sure how long till we get back into our office spaces, but till then, we can try and make our homes a safe working place for our own good.

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