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Working From Home May Harm Your Body and Your Voice

A news article caught my eye last week because it applied directly to the problems broadcasters and voiceover artists face with the new working styles that began when the pandemic started.

The article was in The Washington Post entitled, “Some lesser-known culprits for neck and back pain and what to do about them” (by Stacey Colino, 10/26/21).

In this article Colino explores an area I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about lately. That is that the pandemic has made most of us more sedentary, and that’s resulting in more severe and new onset of pain.

The article points out that this increase in pain has even been proven in a study. The study found 39% of 232 workers in one company who switched to working at home had stronger pain in the lower back and 46% showed more neck pain.

The biggest culprits may sound very familiar:  sitting longer, weight gain, and stress.  These coupled with poor posture create the scenario for more pain.

So what’s the solution to this ramping up of pain?  There are several.

First, move more because this loosens up the hips and lower back.  It also burns calories thus helping us lose those extra “covid” pounds.  Exercising ups your energy just before a broadcast or voiceover session as well.  So the benefits of moving more shouldn’t be ignored.

Moving can be as simple as getting up to walk around the house or newsroom every 30 to 45 minutes, doing some stretches, as well as fitting in a workout at least three times a week.

The other thing to consider about neck and back pain is posture.  The most ergonomically correct posture for working at a desk is pictured above.  Research has found that this posture results in a reduction of fatigue, eye strain, and bodily discomfort, but many of us have ignored this, and have developed “pandemic postures.”

Broadcasters have told me they often spend time working from a couch at home or at a desk that’s doesn’t take ergonomics into account.  Colino’s advice on this situation is to prop your device (or script) up to get it at the correct eye level (see above) in whatever manner  works whether it’s on books, in a stand, or even holding smaller devices up.

What you don’t want to do is slouch and jut your head out or down toward your device while you’re working.  This tenses your neck and shoulders, and these are areas that you don’t want to tense when you’re trying to keep your voice healthy.  For more on this and some helpful exercises, check out this post of mine.




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