Working from home for an extended period can result in bad back pain.
If you’re lucky enough to be working right now, the likelihood is that you’re doing it from home. Millions of people all over the world have turned their homes into makeshift offices in the last number of weeks, as a result of the Coronavirus.
This move means that a lot of people are no longer at a typical office desk, and are now working from various parts of their home. That might be the kitchen table, the couch or anywhere that you can get some peace at home really.
Naturally, I had to call in some expert advice for this one, so I reached out to licensed Physiotherapist, Grainne McCullough, who gave me a number of great tips on alleviating back pain during this extended period of working from home.
“If you’re sitting down all day, your lumbar spine is in a loaded, flexed position which exerts pressure on the lumbar (low back) vertebral discs.”
“This means they can protrude onto the spinal cord and cause pain.”
So, what can be done to help?
Make sure to move a lot
Now that you’re working from home, you no longer have a morning and evening commute, which means you’re moving a lot less. This can be pretty bad for your posture, and may result in back pain. Grainne says: “You need to be strict with yourself when it comes to getting up, moving around and doing some stretches every 40 minutes or so”. If you’re on a call, try do it while walking around, whether it’s in your home or outside (weather permitting of course).
Also, do try and get out every day for a bit of exercise, leave the house. “Get a bit of variation in what you do, whether it’s an online class or getting out for a walk.”
DON’T work in bed or on the couch
Guys, this one is so important. If you’re working from home at the moment, PLEASE don’t do so from the couch in your living room, or from your bed. Not only will this be bad for your mental health, it will really make your back suffer.
Grainne suggests setting up a workspace that is as close to an office as possible.
“Set up a well lit space, where you’re upright. If you have a chair that’s mobile, as opposed to a rigid one, that’s great. If not, try to use a chair from the kitchen table instead of an armchair.”
Your posture will worsen, the perception of comfort can stop you from moving around as much – which is not ideal.
However, if you’re really stuck, and your couch is the only place you can work, then ensure you set a timer for every 40 minutes or so, as a reminder to get up and move around.
Elevate your laptop
If you’re at home working on a laptop, as opposed to your usual monitor, you need to make a few changes. One big thing will be to elevate your laptop, to ensure you’re not slouching into it for 8 hours a day. Not only will this have a negative effect on your posture, but it will also end up causing you quite a bit of pain and stiffness.
If you don’t have access to a laptop stand, then try using a few books instead, to elevate your device closer to your eye level.
Also, if you can at all, try get your hands on a mouse and a keyboard. These two will again prevent you from overly hunching into your laptop. If you don’t have access to either, then try a makeshift standing desk, the kitchen counter, for example, or even an ironing board (yes, really!)
Mind yourselves folks.