BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Working at home can be a pain in the neck – or the hips, lower back and knees.
Physical therapist Andy Miller, owner of Complete Care Physical Therapy, has seen plenty of evidence that the lack of proper ergonomics in the home office can contribute to pain and discomfort.
“I don’t think anyone thought they would be working or taking classes from home a year later, so many people waited six or seven months to get a new chair or create a more ergonomic workspace,” Miller said.
Ergonomics is the design of furniture and surroundings to provide proper support for the human body. It can apply to the home office or even an assembly line.
“I had one client who is in his 20s. He was working at home, sitting in bed with a laptop, leaning forward, so he was experiencing neck issues,” Miller said. “Within a few visits, his pain was corrected, but he also changed his workspace. Even teens and young adults can experience problems – and that’s caused by looking down at a laptop, tablet or phone.”
While Miller’s primary role is to alleviate his clients’ issues through physical therapy, he takes that a step further by asking for a photo of their work area and making suggestions for improvements. Coupled with an exercise plan, he sees positive results.
With three physical therapists and eight assistants on staff, Complete Care at Holiday Park has three locations, in Perrysburg, Sylvania and Waterville. The independent practice allows the PTs more flexibility and time to provide one-on-one care with patients, Miller said.
“Physical therapy isn’t one-size-fits-all. We individualize our exercises based on ailments, diagnosis and lifestyle. We’re able to have more time to discuss our patients’ lifestyles and suggest what exercises they may need,” Miller said. “This is not just therapy, but life after therapy. We want to keep you from having to see us all the time.”
Walking through the Waterville location, Miller demonstrated some of the exercises that assist patients in recovery – such as lateral pulls on a weight machine, stretches with an exercise band and throwing a ball at a trampoline-like target while standing on one leg. While the Complete Care offices have gym equipment such as treadmills and weight machines, many exercises can be done at home with little equipment.
Exercise, Miller said, is the key to reducing or minimizing the effects of aging and stress on the body.
“If you’re sedentary, it creates more pressure on your joints. The longer you remain in one position, it creates a joint tension that can start building up after just 20 minutes,” he said.
That position could be standing, especially for those in service jobs or on an assembly line. When standing, one hip is dominant, and it throws the pelvis forward and puts the body out of alignment. Even how a purse or backpack is worn can have an effect on the back or knees. The ears, shoulders and hips are all meant to be aligned when standing. If not in alignment, it can cause stress on the lower back.
“As we get older, it’s harder to sit up straight and our back muscles get weaker,” Miller said. “We can’t change our history, but we can reduce or minimize bad stressors on our body and how we reverse that is through good exercises.”
Complete Care is operating under CDC guidelines, booking one patient at a time and cleaning spaces and equipment between clients. Even the pool areas at Perrysburg and Sylvania are cleaned often in order to provide a safe environment for patients.
For information, visit completecareathp.com or call the Waterville office at (419) 441-4251.