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One of the positive things to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the work-from-home trend. And it seems as though it’s here to stay. 

An annual survey (conducted between July and August 2021) by Flexjobs, a job search site for flexible and remote jobs, found that 58% of respondents said they wanted to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic. 

The benefits of working from home include a custom office space, an average savings of 40 minutes daily from commuting, a flexible schedule, comfortable clothes, money savings on dry-cleaning, lunches, and parking fees, better work-life balance, fewer interruptions and so much more. 

But there can be some disadvantages as well, including social isolation, and the difficulties of maintaining boundaries between work and home life. One of the most consequential drawbacks to working from home is the toll it can take on your musculoskeletal health. Read on to learn more about how remote work can impact your joints and muscles.  

According to a June 2020 survey from HingeHealth, lack of movement was the second top challenge for remote workers, with 35% saying that they were too sedentary. In that same survey, 45% of respondents said they were experiencing back and joint pain since they started working from home.

Another 2020 study, which surveyed 51 at-home workers in Italy, found that 41.2% of at-home workers reported low back pain, while 23.5% reported neck pain. About half of the respondents said that their neck pain had gotten worse since they started working from home, according to the study that was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 

So why is this the case? When you’re working in an office environment, you’ll likely take trips to the watercooler, get up from your desk to speak to colleagues, walk to grab a sandwich at lunchtime, move from room to room, and possibly climb up and downstairs in the building. At home, you probably only walk from your bedroom to your den. 

Sitting too much can cause weakening of leg muscles, hip and joint problems, excessive stress on your spine and neck, and compression of the discs in your spine. This can eventually lead to chronic pain. And in terms of your overall fitness level, even if you work out seven days a week, you can’t counter the effects of sitting for seven hours at a time daily, according to WebMD.

Many offices have ergonomic chairs that help support your spine and prevent you from slouching, but you probably don’t have one at home. 

It can be tempting to prop yourself up on some pillows and work from your bed or slump over your laptop on a comfy couch. But these soft textures can cause you to slouch, which is particularly bad for your posture. If you’re already experiencing pain, seek help from a qualified physical therapist. In the next blog, read about how you can minimize the stress that working from home can cause to your musculoskeletal system 

Need Help?

Are you experiencing back or neck pain or hip problems due to working from home? South Orange Rehabilitation and Wellness provides hands-on, personalized physical therapy in our newly-expanded 600 square foot facility. We use the latest technological advances such as a spinal decompression unit, a cold laser, electric stimulation, and ultrasound capabilities. Our physical therapy approach includes a range of techniques including manual therapy, sports medicine, post-surgical care, athletic care, and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. Contact us to find out how we can help you!