By Aaron Zitner
For Anthony Flint, one of the most comfortable spots in his house became one of the most dangerous.
With his company office closed by the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Flint took to working in a brown armchair in his bedroom, his legs sharing the ottoman with his terrier, Dusty. Then came the backache.
“It got so bad that I was in the kitchen making dinner and I found myself hanging on to the counter trying to take weight off my legs,” he says.
With millions of Americans now working from home, many are finding that they haven’t nailed the basics, ergonomically speaking. They are slumping on the couch with laptops, then slumping again to watch TV. They’re sitting on beds, necks strained from staring down at cellphones. Many have ignored widely available tipsheets on how to set up workstations at home.
The result: Weeks of poor posture have led to backaches, neck pain and headaches, say physical therapists and other practitioners who are fielding more complaints.
When the American Chiropractic Association posted a survey on its Facebook page recently, nearly 200 members, or 90% of those who answered, said their patients were experiencing more pain since stay-at-home rules went into effect. The North American Spine Society, an association of physicians, reports that exercises to reduce neck pain were the second most viewed item in April on its website for patients, up from fifth a year ago.
“I was getting phone calls from people saying, ‘I can’t move my neck,’ ” says Karen Erickson, a New York City chiropractor. “And within 15 minutes of doing a health history, I realized that these people were working at home, often using their coffee table as a desk or sitting on their sofa.” Setups like that can easily put the neck and back in stressful positions.