Today’s workplace and workspace of 2023 look very different than they did just a few years ago before the COVID-19 pandemic. They have shifted in major ways. Now people are finding themselves working anywhere and everywhere – from home offices and coffee shops to their car, in an airport or hotel – and everywhere in between.
Our bodies are feeling this change – in good and bad ways. This is something I’ve been very focused on in the last few years as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. One of our core beliefs is about the importance of looking at patients holistically – body, the mind and spirit – and treating all three.
So let’s start doing that and talk about the benefits of a flexible workplace.
Having more flexibility is often good for our soul. That may be because you can now use your lunch break to head to the gym, walk the dog – or even catch up on laundry. Many report benefits in dropping a long, lengthy, stressful commute. These are more than just conveniences. When our mind is less stressed, our body is going to be less stressed and that makes it healthier. It can reduce tight muscles, jaw pain, back pain, neck pain, migraines and so much more.
I find that the flexible work place has also increased a focus on physical health. So many more people are now using standing desks, desk treadmills or desk bikes. People are taking conference calls while they go for a walk – or walk the dog. As long as it’s not impeding the workplace environment and productivity is still there, I think it’s important for us to acknowledge these benefits.
For many though, there has been a negative impact on the body and I find that’s most often the case when people are winging it with their workspace. From what I see with patients, back and neck pain triggered by a workspace come down to inadequacies in two areas – materials and treatment.
When you work in an office outside your home, someone else is investing in desks and chairs and they can be really nice ones with lumbar support. Perhaps you’re given more supplies too – like a wireless keyboard, ergonomic mouse, a rest pad for your wrists and much more. Many people didn’t invest in these materials when the pandemic first started, unaware how long their flexible work environment would last.
But nearly three years later, it’s here to stay for many. If that’s the case for you – invest in some materials to improve the biomechanics of your workplace. You’re likely sitting there for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. If it’s not a proper setup, you’re going to feel it and that pain can build up and get more severe over time – manifesting as back pain, carpal tunnel, tech neck and more.
Ergonomic setups are key to prevent this type of chronic pain. Three tips –
There’s a real tendency for people to downplay pain when it comes from their workplace. It’s like they think it’s not a big deal because they didn’t hurt themselves doing a sport or in an accident. But workplace pain is a very real issue. Here’s what to keep in mind when treating it.
The bottom line is – every day when you go to work in a flexible environment, you are either setting yourself up for success or failure from a biomechanical perspective. Take a few moments to think that through and it will impact not only your pain – but also your productivity.
Dr. Yash Mehta is a “one-stop shop” physiatrist at Virginia Spine Institute. Dr. Mehta is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation. He treats every aspect of a patient – mind, body, spirit, and soul. With a philosophy to simplify the complex, he eases the patient’s concerns and helps them feel more comfortable working together towards restoring overall health and function.
Reviewed by: Dr. Yash Mehta, DO.
Reviewed by: Dr. Yash Mehta, DO.