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HOW TO: Protect your body when working from home

From lower back pain to weight gain and blood clots, working from home can present a new set of challenges for many workers

ST. LOUIS — Millions of Americans are working from home and discovering their home office isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Body aches, fatigued eyes, lower back pain and weight gain are common complaints from people working from home. 

Dr. Rachel Charney, a SLUCare Physician with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, said even she struggles when sitting in front of the computer for too long.

"I'll find myself stretching and finding that my whole posture hasn't been the best," she said. "It's definitely easy when you find yourself outside a normal ergonomic situation to have those issues."

Regular movement is critical for avoiding body pain. Dr. Charney advises 10 minutes of movement for every hour.

"Get up, get a snack walk around your house if you have an outdoor space - things like that that remind you to move," she advised. "You can even set a timer to remind you to do things like that."

Finding little ways to squeeze in physical movement can prevent serious problems in the future.

"Just that little movement is so helpful for getting your legs moving. Let's try not to get blood clots," said Dr. Charney. "I've taken calls while I'm using my exercise bike if it's something where I'm listening and less interactive."

Improper computer or laptop placement can put extra strain on the neck or back. If you don't have a standing desk - or don't want to shell out a couple hundred bucks for one - Dr. Charney suggests placing it on a higher counter top. The screen should be close to eye-level, so the user doesn't hunch over and sacrifice proper posture.

Tips for working from home, from someone who works from home

Most home offices are a short walk to the kitchen. If you find yourself constantly grazing on food, and gaining weight Dr. Charney recommends planning meals.

Avoid binging on unhealthy snacks by portioning them into airtight containers in the morning. Save the snack until you're ready to enjoy it at a designated time later in the day.

As screen time increases, more Americans may experience eye fatigue. Consider taking notes with a pen and paper, or using talk-to-text to create voice memos.


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