How to work from home comfortably and reduce and prevent back pain
With the lockdown carrying on for some time, it is still not clear when we will be able to return to the office. Even when we do, it is likely that we will still need to be working from home part time, in a form of blended working. Offices will have to operate on a vastly reduced capacity rate in order to allow for social distancing and we will need to avoid public transport where possible!
However, it is becoming clear that a lot of our homeworking set ups are less than ideal. My work providing home working consultations have shown this and the IES survey found, that even after just 2 weeks into lockdown, there was an average of 50% increase in back pain reported.
So now is the time to start to make changes to ensure we can reduce and prevent back issues in the long term and increase our comfort levels when working from home.
During my individual ergonomic consultations as well as my workshops, I have seen many people working from dining chairs and tables, sofas and beds. It seems very few have a dedicated chair and desk. There are many things you can do you ensure you are putting your body at risk when in these types of circumstances. It is really important to try and prevent back pain from occurring in the first place is optimal, as the body adapts with long term pain making it a longer recovery process. Ergonomics is a powerful defense against this.
Our backs are healthiest when we are either sitting in upright postures or moving. Our muscles, tissues and nerves all need blood and oxygen to keep flowing through in order to avoid acidic build up, which can cause a pain response. Static and awkward postures stop the flow and long term, can cause changes that increase our risk of back pain, RSI etc. However, remembering to sit up all day, when we are working hard can be challenging. So ergonomics, when we are working, is all about understanding what is causing you to slouch or adopt poor postures and how to make often simple but highly effective changes that reduce your risk.
I would therefore recommend the following:
- If working from a dining chair and table, ensure you are sitting at the right height for the table, so your arms are level with the table top. Usually you will be sitting too low, so use a cushion to raise you higher
- Use a cushion to support your lower back curve
- If you are sitting on a sofa or bed, use lots of pillows behind your back to support an upright posture, and if using a laptop , place this on pillows to raise the screen height up
- Invest in a better chair. I saw so many people struggling with a chair that is uncomfortable that I created a new homeworker chair. It provides all the essential ergonomic support you need, at an affordable price: See: https://www.corrigo-design.com/shop/uncategorized/homeworker-chair/
For more detailed tips and advice, contact us for our free homeworking guide at [email protected]