The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home. While there are many wonderful things about telecommuting — no commutes! pet cuddles in the middle of the day! — your workspace may lack the ergonomic support you enjoyed at the office, where you had a supportive chair and a perfectly positioned desk.
At home, beds, couches and dining room tables have become the norm for working. It’s little wonder people are developing lower back pain. Luckily, you can learn how to avoid back pain while working from home.
How Can I Prevent Back Pain When Working From Home?
The best way to prevent back pain is to create a more functional, ergonomic workspace. If you are hunching over your laptop while working on the couch or bed, this could be causing your back pain. Instead, you should:
- Sit in a chair to work: Find a chair that provides steady support. Select a chair that has a back, as stools offer no back support. You may need to roll up a couple of pillows to support your lumbar region.
- Position your desk and chair correctly: Adjust the height of the chair so that your feet sit flat on the floor and your elbows bend at 90-degree angles when you type on your laptop.
- Raise your computer screen: Your monitor or laptop screen should be at eye level so you don’t have to look down when you use it. Use a stack of books to boost the screen to the right level.
- Adjust your keyboard and mouse: Positioning them closer to you will reduce the strain on your back.
- Take frequent stretch breaks: When working from home with a bad back, try to avoid long stretches sitting at your computer in the same position. Instead, get up at least once an hour to stretch your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Tuck your chin in and out. Walking around the house for a minute can also relax tense muscles.
Another option is to ditch the desk chair entirely and opt for a standing desk. Standing desks provide a range of benefits, including lowering your risk of developing heart disease and increasing productivity. You will have a straighter posture when you stand at a desk, reducing the pressure on your spine.
Stress can also make back problems worse. You may find your neck scrunching into your shoulders as you hold tension when you feel particularly bothered. While decreasing stress alone won’t solve your back problem, it may lessen the severity of your pain. Try some simple solutions for easing stress, such as taking a hot shower or bath, relaxing with a cup of herbal tea or listening to soothing music.
Ask a Doctor About Avoiding Back Pain or Working From Home With a Bad Back
If you have tried all these solutions and you are still experiencing discomfort, reach out to a physician for assistance. Whether you are a new or returning patient, it’s easy to schedule an appointment with OrthoBethesda online.