Tips for Working at Home – Effective Stretching and Proper Ergonomics
Physical therapy exercises aren’t something that should only be done when you’re in our clinics. The strengthening exercises that your therapist provides you with are meant to be repeated while at home too. Though working from home is the new norm, awkward posture, neck strain, and overall discomfort can be easily avoided with consistent care and a suitable ergonomic setup. We are continually evolving our services so that we can provide you with the best rehabilitation physical therapy experience inside and outside of the clinic, especially for those sitting in front of a computer screen for 40 hours a week.
Tips For Fun At Home Physical Therapy Exercises
Did you know that prolonged sitting can shorten your hamstrings and hip flexors? It can also contribute to discomfort in your neck and lower back, and even diminish core strength. The next couple of months might be a big change for many individuals, as we’re spending even more time at home or in a desk chair. Without frequent standing/walking breaks away from a workspace, we subject ourselves to significant postural changes and medical issues. Whether you’re an older adult, middle-aged, or younger individual, anyone can benefit from at-home physical therapy exercises and work from home ergonomics.
Proper Sitting Ergonomics:
When seated at a desk, your ankles should be in a neutral position with feet flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, hips bent at 90 degrees, trunk in neutral, shoulders in neutral, elbows bent at 90 degrees resting on armrests, wrists in neutral with the keyboard directly underneath the hands, and computer monitor or laptop at eye level so your neck remains neutral and relaxed. Your spine should be in a neutral, curved shape that follows its natural formation.
While working at home, you may be tempted to camp out on the couch or stay propped up in bed. Though these may seem like ideal spots to get situated, working from a proper desk will benefit your posture and productivity in the long run. When seated at your workstation, you will want to consider desk height. This factor affects the positioning of your laptop, monitors, keyboard, and mouse. When positioning these essentials at your desk, you will want to ensure that any and all neck pain is avoided. This is done by adjusting the monitor’s height so that the top of the monitor hits your eye level perfectly and that your neck is in a neutral position. Neck strain can occur if your monitor is positioned at a height that forces your eyes to look up or down to view the screen. In addition, position the monitors at arm’s length away, right behind the keyboard tray.
It is recommended to try to take 5-10 minutes every hour to get up, stretch, move your body, and refill your water bottle. Plus, taking a break helps reduce eye strain and tension that builds up from staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
Here are a few ergonomic tips and stretching exercises. These are beneficial for the home office and remote worker to maintain a healthy body along with an exercised mind:
Check out the virtual physical therapy video for a demonstration on how to perform each of these movements. These can be done from the comfort of your workplace! It will show you the proper starting position for each stretching exercise along with the number of repetitions to performed. These gentle stretches can help you to improve your posture and feel more comfortable in your body even if you are glued to your workstation from nine to five.
- Seated Hamstring Stretch: Perform 3 per side, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
- Seated Thoracic Rotation Stretch: Perform 10 per side, holding each stretch for 5 seconds.
- Upper Trapezius Stretch: Perform 3 per side, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
- Levator Scapulae Stretch: Perform 3 per side, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
We’re here to help:
If these exercises increase your pain, or don’t improve your symptoms after a few days, you could benefit from a one-on-one evaluation with a healthcare professional in the Ivy Rehab Network. You can request an appointment here and we’ll reach out to you to schedule. Unable to make it to the clinic for physical therapy during the coronavirus? Or want to stay in the comfort of your home, while still meeting with one of our board-certified physical therapists? We also offer Telehealth appointments with individualized care to reduce pain and help you progress. Our team has a variety of strengthening exercises to help you find long term rehabilitation solutions that best suit your needs.
Below is a list of areas that physical therapists are able to treat:
- hip pain
- shoulder pain
- neck pain
- leg pain
- muscle pain
- arm pain
- ankle pain or sprains
- heel pain
- joint pain
- knee pain
- chronic pain
Our trained therapists want to ensure you get the patient education you need, as we guide you through the healing process.
Article by Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA
Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA is a practicing physical therapist and a partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network. Deur is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults with more than 35 years of clinical experience. She is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.
Office Workers Guide to Stretching & Ergonomics
The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.