Working from home can take its toll on your back: here’s how to straighten things out
Feeling the strain on your body while working from home? There are lots of ways to improve your posture to minimise pain
It’s easy to assume that, with all this extra time on our hands, our bodies would be in great shape. All that yoga, long walks, and home HIIT workouts are definitely great for fitness levels, but if you are spending the majority of your day working from home, this is where things get complicated.
Whether you’re at a desk, at the kitchen table or working from the couch or your bed (spoiler: please don’t do this), constant sitting and very little time spent up and about can take a toll on your body. We always hear about how we can combat the effects of office working, but these are just as relevant to those who work from home.
If you’ve been feeling aches and pains, especially in your back, neck and shoulders, since you’ve been working from home, here are some ways to combat it.
If your neck and shoulders hurt
Neck and shoulder pain is a common side effect of working from home, and is mostly due to your computer screen; specifically, its angle. If you think back to your desk set up in an office, it’s likely that your computer screen is much larger and is placed at a height, so that you are looking at the screen at eye level. When working from home on a laptop, the computer screen lies at a lower angle, meaning that your neck and shoulders are bent downwards for extended periods of time. It’s very similar to the idea of ‘text neck’, where your posture is constantly bent forward while looking at your phone.
The solution is simple – place your laptop on a platform so that you can see it at eye level. Your screen should be about arm’s length away from you, and your neck and shoulders should be able to relax in a neutral position, neither straining forward or back.
If you feel pain in your lower back
Lower back pain can result from bad posture while sitting or standing. You’re especially at risk of some aches and pains if you’re spending extended periods of time on the couch or on the bed. Hard, straight back chairs, although they may feel more uncomfortable at first, are better to work from day-to-day.
Try your best not to slouch when working. Straighten your posture by imagining that there is an invisible cord pulling you up from the top of your head until your spine is straight. Place a cushion or a rolled up towel at the base of your back to give lumbar support, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
The main culprit for back pain is lack of movement. Even if it hurts, it’s better to get up and about as much as you can and maintain a good amount of movement throughout the day. When you’re working, make sure you get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour — make a cup of tea, a snack or walk up and down the stairs a couple of times. In your free time, go for walks, do yoga – even pottering around the house doing odd jobs can help, as long as you’re on your feet.
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