Since the arrival of COVID-19 into the UK, millions of people have worked from home. In fact, nearly 50% of the UK workforce were home based at the peak of the pandemic according to figures from the office of national statistics (ONS) [1].

For many, working from home is a huge work/life balance upgrade. No commuting, which saves time heading back and forth to the office or workplace. No risk of traffic or train delays, no parking fees or congestion charges. Reduced fuel bills and wear and tear on the car. There’s also the benefit of work finishing the second the laptop is closed, rather than having to battle with the masses on the commute home.

Sounds idyllic… but is it?

For the most part, it’s fantastic, but working from home isn’t without its problems. Not all houses are set up for home working – millions of people may have been using makeshift desks, sitting on sofas, hunching over kitchen worktops and the like.

If you’re used to working at an ergonomically set up workstation, the reversion to dining room tables can be an uncomfortable one. In fact, a survey by ‘Versus Arthritis’ showed that “four in five (81%) desk workers who switched to working from home in lockdown have since had back, neck or shoulder pain, with a quarter (23%) affected often or all the time”. [2]

Working from home uplift is set to continue, so in this article we’re going to explain how to avoid skeletal and muscular issues to keep your body primed whilst working from home.


Time to read: 3 minutes

Beginner

Key Points:

  • Common injuries caused by working from home
  • The importance of exercise & movement
  • The importance of stimulating blood flow with KYMIRA® Sport products
  • Focus on prevention

"Four in five (81%) desk workers who switched to working from home in lockdown have since had back, neck or shoulder pain, with a quarter (23%) affected often or all the time”.



Working from home injuries

Accurate injury data for new home workers is difficult to come by, but what we can do instead is look back at historical data, collected from a time when ergonomically set-up workstations didn’t really exist. This is a good comparison, because the overwhelming likelihood is that your home office (or dining table!) isn’t ergonomically designed.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has good data on the issues associated with working without an ergonomic set up.

What the data shows is that around 73% of people reported one or more musculoskeletal symptoms. Individual musculoskeletal symptoms lasting up to and beyond 12 months ranged from 12% for elbow and forearm injuries to 47% for neck symptoms.

Issues involving the shoulder, neck and back were most frequently reported together, suggesting a postural element to the problem. Prevalence of these symptoms was higher among those who spent more time at their desk – especially if they exceeded an hour without a movement break [3]. We can’t therefore underestimate the importance of frequent movement when it comes to avoiding injuries when working from home.

Alleviating musculoskeletal discomfort

Exercise and movement are consistently proven to be a very effective way of reducing muscular and skeletal discomfort issues. The simple act of moving is credited with helping to reduce the symptoms of conditions ranging from simple muscle stiffness through to more severe cases of arthritis [4]. There are several reasons for this, but primarily they come down to…

 

  • Movement improves tissue elasticity through increasing warmth and blood flow
  • The stimulation of synovial fluid flow into a joint, helping to ease joint movement [5]

 

The weight of evidence falls onto stimulating blood flow and warming the tissues. Both are possible with the introduction of infrared fabrics.

KYMIRA® Sport’s patented KYnergy® infrared fabric helps to stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator [6]. This means it stimulates blood flow into tissues, helping to warm them and make movement more comfortable. Furthermore, KYnergy® fabrics are excellent at controlling temperature through efficient thermoregulation properties. They warm up quickly and maintain temperature 63% more effectively than fabrics of equivalent weight.

It’d be remiss of us to suggest that the simple addition of infrared clothing would remove any musculoskeletal issues suffered by home workers, but it’d certainly help.

Avoiding MSK issues whilst working from home - concluded

Prevention is better than cure here, so the best advice is to set yourself up properly. If you can’t have an ergonomically set up workstation, at least get yourself a comfortable chair and a desk or table space that allows you to work with an upright posture – hunching over your sofa may sound like a good idea, but it won’t take long to start hurting.

Next up, schedule regular movement breaks. That doesn’t have to be exercise, but it does have to be movement – walking around for 5-10 minutes is ideal. Take phone calls whilst walking, perform a couple of chores etc. Anything to get you up and away from a desk.

A middle-of-the-day workout would be ideal. If your job and schedule allow, working out in the middle of the day would tick a movement box, it gets you away from the desk and it could make you more productive. There’s very good research showing that exercise is a very effective way to boost cognitive health and function [7], which can only be a good thing during a working day! A more alert version of yourself is likely to make better decisions and get things done more effectively.

Finally, wearing infrared products offer a supporting role in the promotion of circulation and pain free movement. You can pick up infrared clothing that is perfectly suited to the working day by heading to the KYMIRA website.

 

March 02, 2022 — Steve Hoyles

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