The widespread use of computers and the rise of technology (and good old pandemic life) has revolutionised how we work.
Who’d have thought 4 years ago that working from home would no longer be a luxury reserved for the self-employed, but a regular, standard, and accepted practice amongst the employed!
In fact, here in the UK a massive 40% of adults said they’d worked from home between January and February 2023. 28% of that is believed to be made up of younger workers aged between 16 and 29.
However, prior to 2020 – the year of lockdowns, masks, and sourdough – only 4.7% of those in employment worked from home.
It’s clear that remote and hybrid working is here to stay.
Unfortunately, though, since 2020 there’s also been a sharp upturn in computer related injury searches:
- 40% increase in searches for tech-related injuries
- 78% increase in searches for eye strain from working at a computer
- 142% increase in searches for back pain from working at a computer
It’s either a very unhappy coinkidink, or spending a significant portion of our day sitting in front of a screen on Teams is taking a rather nasty toll on our bodies…
Of course, it’s not just the employed workforce at risk of these strains and niggles. Gamers are also susceptible.
So, here are some of the most common injuries people get from working or gaming at a computer and a few tips on how to fix them:
1. Back Pain
Sitting in one position for a long time can put a strain on the lower back, neck and shoulders giving you the knotted feeling between your shoulder blades.
The pressure on the neck caused by tilting the head downwards to look at a screen can also lead to a literal and metaphorical pain in the neck!
The fix: Move it!
Get up and move about, stretch it out and switch positions. They key here is to get all those muscles moving and grooving again.
2. Eye Strain
Staring at a computer screen for an extended period can cause eye strain, dry eyes, and blurry vision.
Peeps who spend more than 5 hours a day on the computer are more susceptible to this problem. This prolonged and intensive screen use can cause discomfort, headaches, and migraines.
The fix: 20:20:20 Rule
According to the Specsavers:
“You should take a small break every 20 minutes to focus your eyes on something 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. This will help your eye muscles relax, and reduce the likelihood of digital eye strain.”
You can also adjust your monitor settings, reduce glare, and make sure you’ve adequate lighting.
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is a common injury that affects the hands and wrists.
It’s caused by the repeated use of the hands and fingers while typing or using a mouse for prolonged periods. This condition causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands, fingers, and palm, or just straight pain, pain, pain – but it can be solved.
It’s an injury of the peripheral nervous system and flares up when the median nerve is compressed – hence the tingling – but you may also find you have a pain in the neck too.
The fix: Nerve glides and flossing
Here Physiotherapist Dr Tom Walters of Rehab Science shows some simple techniques to help:
4. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a type of repetitive strain injury of the elbow. And no, it’s not brought on by playing tennis…
It’s caused by repeated wrist extension while typing, using a mouse, or other activities that require gripping or twisting motions. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow and weaker grip strength.
The fix: Stretch & strengthen your forearms
Yes really! Although first, you’re gonna want to rest it if possible. A repetitive strain injury is caused by creating tiny tears in the muscle tissue repeatedly until it becomes a bigger problem.
So, you must let it rest where possible to encourage healing – easier said than done. Worth it though…
Then perform these simple exercises daily and you’ll see a big difference…
Bonus: How to Stay Active When You Work & Sit at a Desk Every Day
It's important you stay active throughout the day to keep these pesky ailments at bay, especially if you sit at a desk for long periods. So here are a few bonus tips to keep you movin’ and groovin’ like the latest TikTok dance craze…
1. Take regular breaks: Set a timer every hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch or take a quick walk around your space. It’s a sneaky way of getting your steps in too…
2. Stand up while on the phone: If you have a lot of phone calls during the day, stand up and walk around while you're on the call.
3. Exercise during breaks: Use your lunch break to go for a walk outside, or do a quick yoga session or workout.
4. Use a standing desk: If possible, invest in a standing desk to give your body a break from sitting all day. You’d be surprised just what sitting does to your body – let’s just say it doesn’t like it.
5. Stretch often: Incorporate stretching into your daily routine to keep your body limber and prevent stiffness.
These are just some of the most common injuries that have been on the up since working from home became the norm, but thankfully they’re easily remedied through movement, stretching, and strengthening exercises.
If you’re concerned though, make an appointment with your local physio or optician (for eyes, not elbows!) who can advise you on the absolute best exercises and how to manage it.