Many of us are adjusting to new workstations and home offices as part of the transition to working from home. This transition can present many challenges, including the possible onset of back pain. Poor posture, uncomfortable chairs, and improper desk height can all attribute to nagging back pain that interrupts your workday.
Back pain can present in many ways. You can have pain in the upper back, neck, and shoulder area. This is often associated with Upper Cross Syndrome. Sitting may also trigger sciatic-like pain that can travel down the back of the leg. Another common type of back pain is Lower Cross Syndrome. This syndrome derives from tight hip flexor muscles and weak gluteal muscles. This imbalance can cause stiffness and pain in the low back region.
Any of these injuries can potentially turn working from home into a very unpleasant experience.
How Remote Work can Lead to Back Pain
Poor workstation set up is one of the main contributors to work-related back pain. A desk at the wrong height or a chair with inadequate support can leave you feeling achy after hours of sitting.
If your desk is too high or too low, this can lead to slouching or perpetual shoulder shrugging. Both of these positions can cause strain on the upper back muscles and lead to weakening in the chest muscles. This strain can not only cause tightness in the upper back, but the shoulders and neck as well. If left uncorrected, poor posture can also trigger headaches.
To avoid these issues, position your desk so that your computer monitor is roughly at eye level and your elbows are bent no more than 90 degrees. This will help you maintain proper posture throughout the workday.
Chairs without proper cushioning can put pressure on the low back and hips. They can also lead you to shift your weight from side to side. Sitting tilted like this for hours at a time can lead to muscle imbalances in the hips, which can cause strain on the low back. It’s important to find a chair with enough cushion and support to allow you to comfortably sit with both feet flat on the ground and your spine in a neutral position.
At-Home Back Pain Prevention Tips
Aside from making sure your seated desk and chair are giving you the appropriate support, there are other habits you can add to your workday to help minimize back pain.
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent back pain while you work from home is to take breaks! Taking breaks to get up, move around, and stretch helps keep your hips loose and relieves built up tension. Often our home is quieter and less distracting than a regular office. While this might be beneficial for productivity, you may also find yourself less likely to take breaks. Set a reminder on your phone to get up and move at least once every hour.
You can also step up your home office setup with a standing desk. While there are many high tech options out there, you don’t have to break the bank for this upgrade. You can use things you have lying around the house to elevate your work station. The same general posture-positive rules apply to standings desks as well — monitor at roughly eye level and elbows bent no more than 90 degrees.
If you feel tightness starting to build during the day, try adding in stretches and exercises to help loosen up your hips and relieve back pain. Doing simple stretches and adding them to your routine is a great way to relieve pain if you feel it becoming a common occurrence. Check out the video below for some exercises and stretches to help relieve sciatica pain specifically.
Make the Work-from-Home Life Work for You
If you’ve noticed irritating back pain has crept into your work from home routine, schedule an appointment with an Airrosti Provider near you. Our providers pinpoint the root of your pain and treat it directly at the source to get you back to a pain-free life.
If you’d prefer to connect virtually, consider scheduling a remote telehealth appointment. Give us a call at (800) 404-6050 to schedule or learn more here.
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