BERLIN: Two years into the pandemic, work culture remains completely changed around the world, and many office employees have settled in at home for more regular remote working days.
Those still at home with a company laptop might enjoy the freedom of spreadsheets from the couch and emails on the balcony, but day after day spent looking downwards at a laptop screen can leave its toll on your neck and chest.
Over time, your neck muscles can stiffen and the chest and abdominal muscles can shorten, orthopaedic doctors say.
“The so-called tech neck is an increasing problem,” says Professor Bernd Kladny, Secretary General of the German Society for Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU).
There are precise rules on what a back-friendly a workplace looks like and companies in some countries are even obliged to ensure employees have a desktop monitor, preferably height-adjustable, and a supportive chair.
But the reality when working from home during the pandemic is often far from that, as millions around the world sit at makeshift desks with work laptops.
The problems that come from this can be avoided by setting up a back-friendly workplace at home. That means raising your laptop so that it’s eye level. If you don’t have a notebook stand, you can also use a stack of books.
You will likely also need a separate keyboard and mouse to make working on a raised laptop comfortable in practice, as the laptop’s keyboard and touchpad will be too high for your hands.
Plugging in a separate desktop monitor is also an option, and most new laptops can even extend their screens so that you can keep the laptop screen folded up so you can work on two screens.
If you find that you are slouching or straining yourself again, you need to change your posture. “Take regular breaks, stretch and straighten up or even lounge around,” says Kladny.
Your levels of stress and fitness, as well as any other burdens on your body will play a role on how bad your text neck is by the time you head back to the office, Kladny says.
A great way to prevent text next is with a quick round of sport or exercise after work, or also some simple neck, shoulder and back exercises while you're sitting at your desk.
Try not to sit still for too long either. “As a matter of principle, you should not sit in the same position permanently when working at a desk,” says the expert. Two to three changes of position per hour would be ideal. “You have to actively do this – otherwise it’s easy to forget when you’re concentrated.” – dpa