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Headaches, eye strain, neck pain: how working from home is hurting our bodies

Last Updated Mar 17, 2021 at 7:01 pm MDT

EDMONTON (CityNews) — Health experts say the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our bodies is a real problem — and it’s not just because gyms are closed and workouts are sparse.

Working from home may be leading to a rise in pain and various injuries. Neck pain, back pain, eye strain and headaches are chief among them.

“Someone used to go up and down the stairs in their office buildings and walk over to Jane’s desk and visit with her, and now is literally sitting at their own dining room at a bad chair,” said physiotherapist Heidi Fedoruk.

In many cases, the pain is more than just a minor inconvenience.

“We’re hearing lots of reports. And unfortunately when we’re hearing the reports are when people are already quite involved, having severe headaches, eyestrain, or actually being treated by a physician for back problems or upper back,” said occupational therapist and ergonomic specialist Linda Miller.


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The biggest culprit for work-from-home pains: the laptop. Sitting hunched over and looking down puts sprain on the neck.

Some tips from health experts to promote a more ergonomic workspace: elevating your laptop, getting a sperate keyboard and mouse, or even asking your boss to take your monitor or proper chair from the office.

Occupational therapists say they’ve seen a significant increase in eye strain.

“It’s because a lot of us forget when we used to get up from our work station and walk to a meeting we had a visual break for our eyes,” said Miller. “Now we’re doing back-to-back meetings, or jumping into another activity on the computer.”

READ MORE: Tips on taking care of yourself while working from home

Taking breaks to even walking outside can help your eyes. It’s another way of getting a few more steps in, too.

But with the nicer weather coming, physiotherapists are warning not to go from zero to 100 with your workouts.

“Do not do it all at once,” said Fedoruk. “Break up your tasks. Warm up, stretch, alternate tasks.”

Another recommendation: develop a workout or movement plan with a physiotherapist before getting active again.

“We love it when someone comes in preventatively and says, ‘look, the last year, I know I haven’t been doing my regular exercise routine. I’m about to start running. Here’s my goal, can you help me develop a plan, a stretching plan,’” said Fedoruk.