For almost a year, thousands of Quebecers have been forced to work at home. If teleworking has its advantages, it also brings its share of disadvantages … especially when it comes to pain caused by bad posture. Four specialists tell us about the phenomenon and suggest good habits to adopt.
“Workstations at home are not always suitable. We notice that many people develop pain in the upper limbs, neck and lower back ”, explains Dominic Labelle, physiotherapist and co-owner of Accès Physio clinics.
Among the most common pains attributable to teleworking are neck pain, shoulder pain, epicondylitis in the elbow, wrist pain and lower back pain, says Labelle. “The context of the pandemic, stress, lack of sleep and a sedentary lifestyle can cause pain and stiffness,” he continues.
In addition, the physiotherapist says he has received more patients suffering from adhesive capsulitis in the shoulder – a very painful condition that leads to a loss of range of motion in the shoulder – since the start of telework, during the first confinement. Pain related to a herniated disc or sciatica in the lower back is also common. “These conditions are complex and require good management to recover,” he insists.
The osteopath Emmanuelle Caron-Girard, from Bhavana la clinic, in Montreal, is also seeing more and more patients who want to relieve musculoskeletal discomfort associated with poor ergonomics. “People had to work with the wrong equipment (bad chair, too high desk, inadequate screen height), and this mainly caused increased discomfort in the neck, elbows, wrists and bottom. from the back, ”she notes.
Another observation: the kitchen table is at the origin of many evils, deplores Marie-Ève Barrette-Plante, administrator of the Association of chiropractors of Quebec. “Most of the tables are too high to be used as a desk, causing the elbows to be too low or the shoulders to be raised. Trapezius tension and the risk of injury to the upper limbs can therefore result. ”
Fight against sedentary lifestyle
On the other hand, for many people, confinement proved to be an additional challenge in staying active, which caused some stiffness in the body and, at the same time, general physical discomfort. “Being active on a daily basis, whether it’s walking to work or engaging in a more dynamic activity, really allows us to stay in good physical and mental health,” says Ms. Caron-Girard.
Walking is limited with this new way of life, it is recommended to take breaks to do some stretching exercises to counteract the long hours of sitting behind a screen. “Simple stretches, such as stretching the arms above the head, making the back of a cat and lowering the shoulders as much as possible, can make a difference,” suggests Ms. Barrette-Plante.
In fact, sitting does not help the flexibility of the posterior muscle chain, says Diegal Leger, podiatrist at Clinique du pied Leger in Montreal. “A calf and hamstring stretching session can help prevent a lot of pain during physical activity or when standing for a long time,” he recommends.
Inactivity can be harmful and accelerate cartilage diseases like osteoarthritis (arthritis), adds Leger. That is why lower limb joint mobilization exercises can help keep joints healthy. “As a wise patient has already well illustrated:” It must be swarming, otherwise it will rust! “”.
Watch out for the feet!
The practice of running has become very popular with many teleworkers, observes Diegal Leger. Although this is good news at first glance, overtraining injuries have become common.
In addition, walking for a long time barefoot in the house, for people who are not used to it or for those with predisposing biomechanical factors, can cause certain plantar pain, warns Mr. Leger. In this context, as much for the followers of the foot as for the employees in teleworking, “we must not especially forget the intrinsic muscles of the foot, because they give us strength, stability and balance”, concludes the podiatrist.
“It is essential to optimize the ergonomics of the computer station in teleworking. Ideally, it is best to use an adjustable office chair with good lumbar support. If the lumbar support of the chair is inadequate, a cushion can be placed in the lower back. The key position is to keep the elbows bent at 90 degrees and close to the body with the shoulders relaxed. Elbows should be at the same height as the work surface. ” – Dre Marie-Ève Barrette-Plante, chiropractor.
“Try to get up regularly and walk a little. Sitting posture can lead to lower back compressions and neck strain. I recommend that you get up every hour. A few lumbar extensions on the stomach can help people with back problems. ” – Dominic Labelle, physiotherapist.
To do at home
-Stretching the neck muscle in this way helps release certain tensions.
-A few lumbar extensions on the stomach can help many people with certain back problems.