Working from home means people can stay in their pajamas all day, but one downside is that it can lead to aches and pains they’ve never had while at the office.
The loss of traditional workspaces and office chairs while working remotely can lead to back pain. Brigitte Flanagan, DO, a Fellowship Trained Interventional Spine and Pain Management Specialist at The CORE Institute, provided tips for preventing or reducing back pain.
What not to do
Dr. Brigitte Flanagan notes that relaxed posture can contribute to back pain. Here is her list of things to avoid while working remotely:
Holding your computer in your lap, because it can cause you to bend your neck more.
Chairs without backs, such as benches and barstools. Dr. Flanagan said people tend to curl into a “C” position which contributes to back pain.
Laying down while working.
Snacking all day because extra weight causes strain on the back.
There are things you can do during your workday to be mindful of your back health. Dr. Flanagan recommends the following:
- Take a moment every hour to focus on your posture.
- Get up from sitting and walk around for a few minutes at least once per hour.
- Go for a walk once a day, for at least 20 minutes.
- Do stretches, including neck rolls.
- Daily exercises to strengthen your core, like planking.
Finding the best workspace
Even though circumstances are challenging, Dr. Flanagan says it is important to create a proper workspace.
“If you have a home office with a desk chair, I recommend you sit there because it’s more ergonomic most of the time,” she said. If that type of space is not an option, Dr. Flanagan suggests setting up at a table and sitting in a chair with a back.
“This helps to remind you not to put your back in that C-form and to sit up straight,” she said.
And if possible, she notes it is best to sit with your feet on the floor. “Just be mindful of your position while you’re sitting and working.”
While buying an ergonomic chair might not be an option, Dr. Flanagan says there are ways to be creative at home without having to spend a lot of money. She suggests creating a standing desk at the kitchen counter, sitting on an exercise ball, or using a pillow for support.
“When your back hurts, try to pinpoint what is different from before and think about how you can change it to make it better.” If back pain is impeding your life, it is important to seek out the proper help so you can Keep Life In Motion.