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Sound Health is a recurring series that airs twice each month on WGLT's Sound Ideas program.Support for Sound Health comes from Carle Health, bringing care, coverage, support, healthcare research and education to central Illinois and beyond.

Sound Health: Working From Home Can Lead To Bad Habits, Injury

woman in mask pulling stress band
OSF HealthCare
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A physical therapist in Normal says more people working from home during the pandemic has led to more people getting hurt on the job.

It's been a year since employers sent many of their workers home to protect them from COVID-19.In the first installment of the Sound Health series on WGLT's Sound Ideas, a physical therapist says working remotely for an extended period of time has its own health consequences.

Kristine Cottone
Kristine Cottone

Kristine Cottone, a manager at OSF Rehabilitation in Normal, said some people working from home have developed bad habits that can lead to injury over time.

“By working on the couch, or at the kitchen table or at a desk that we could just sit at for a few minutes at home in the evening, that then started some challenges with regards to posture, repetitive use such as my wrist hurts, my elbow, my back and my neck (hurt),” Cottone said.

Cottone said neck and lower back pain are the most common ailments of people who have been working remotely.

Cottone said her office also gets a lot of questions from the public about whether a certain type of chair, computer mouse, or other work accessory would be less likely to cause injury.

“We are seeing more people reach out just for general guidance,” she said.

Cottone said some people working from home also are looking for more ways to stay active during the day since they are surrounded by the comforts of home and no longer need to commute to and from work every day.

“We’ve tried to educate people on changing the way you can get (your work) done. Maybe you have a coworker who lives down the street. Could you walk around the block (with them) a few times as you would for lunch? Or if you have a printer at home, could you put that printer in a different room?”

Cottone added working from home has caused some employees to feel isolated and that also can compound physical stresses on the body.

“Mental health does affect our physical health,” she said. “When we are depressed, we are tired, we are sad, we are anxious, it can increase other aches and pains and pains that we have.”

If you are working from home, OSF recommends you sit at a desk or table, keep your feet flat on the ground or footstool, keep your computer at eye level and avoid sitting for more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time.

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