How to Avoid Back Pain When Working at Home
We’ve been getting this question quite often lately, “How Can I Avoid Back Pain While Working From Home?” Amid a pandemic such as COVID-19, while most of us are working from home, it’s understandably so. However, even before COVID-19, over 26 million people were already working from home. Although the number is now significantly higher. If working from home is new for you, you might notice new pains, specifically in your back.
Even if you had a desk job before this situation, the pains could be new. This is because companies have mandates to follow. These mandates follow standards for desk ergonomics. For most of us, our home offices don’t meet the same standards.
Most people are working from home (as a result of COVID-19) have improper desk setups. Which again, is understandable! Most even use a countertop, table, or bed as a desk. Ouch! Therefore, resulting in poor posture, followed by back pain.
For short periods this may be acceptable. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had us camped out for a while. Some say even after this passes, working from home could result in the new norm. Companies are noticing how their employees can work remotely. And if we continue down this road, this could mean severe postural problems in the future.
Poor posture causes musculoskeletal damage. This can result in back and neck problems. Carpal tunnel can also develop if you work in a non-ergonomics workspace. Some may even develop blood clots in the leg.
So, how do we fix this problem? The simple answer is a neutral posture position.
Also see, “How Important is Proper Posture?”
How to Create a Neutral Posture Position for Working at Home:
No part of your body should be bent or twisted. You also need to move periodically to aid circulation. Follow these tips to help you work more comfortably:
Make sure your screen is eye level.
First, make sure your screen is placed on an even surface in front of your face. Keep your laptop centered at eye level at all times. If you find yourself adjusting your neck to look up or down at your screen, this is the wrong position.
Place computer sideways in a well-lit space.
The screen should be perpendicular to the windows. Do not work facing a window or with your back to it. Blinds are an option to block light. Light will cause glare on your screen. Which often results in us straining our eyes while at the computer.
Read documents at eye level.
Make sure to read paperwork at eye level. A resolution for this is a document or tablet holder. A document holder will hold the paperwork in a correct postural position. If you notice your head moving up and down while reading, fix your posture.
Keep your keyboard and mouse arm’s length.
Your forearms and wrists should be straight and level. However, keeping your arms close to the side of your body. Any other placement of the mouse and keyboard can cause nerve damage.
Use typing and voice input.
Voice recognition is great for emails and texts. Plus, it gives your wrists and hands a rest. However, be careful of misspellings before your hit send!
Sit back straight in your chair.
Do not sit upright and lean forward. An incorrect posture could cause your lower back curve toward the stomach. This posture problem is also a cause of kyphosis. Sit back and close enough to reach the keyboard. When seated, it’s paramount to support the natural curve of your spine. And use a cushion if your chair does not have lower back support.
Rest your feet flat.
Your feet need to be flat on the floor. Alternatively, you can use foot support. Don’t pull them under the chair. And don’t dangle your legs either. Doing so adds pressure to your thighs and restricts blood flow. Not good!
Avoid prolonged standing.
Standing desks have given people the idea that standing is good. While it is not a good idea to remain sedentary all day, standing too much can also cause issues. So, standing all day requires more energy and puts a strain on the circulatory system. Standing for too long increases the risk of varicose veins. Instead, stand and walk at 30-minute intervals throughout the day.
Following these tips will keep your back in better shape. You can make your new home office more ergonomically designed. Work in a neutral posture to prevent severe back pain. And move around as often as you can.