7 Tips From a Chiropractor to Avoid Back Pain When Working From Home
Many of us are now working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis. While it might be more convenient for some, quite a few workers might start to experience back pain when working. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as sitting too long or not using the correct type of chair. It won’t only cause you pain, but can be very stressful. Below you’ll discover some other common reasons why back pain happens and some ways you can prevent it while working from your home office.
What Causes Back Pain?
A handful of things can result in back pain. Most of the time it’s because of:
- Muscle strain
- Herniated disc
- Improper lifting
- Poor posture
In addition to this, if you sit for a long period of time when working it can put force on your spine and lower back. If you do repetitive motions during your work (such as swiveling your chair a certain way or bending down) these too can cause back pain.
7 Tips to Avoid Back Pain When Working From Home
Use Lumbar Support
Lumbar support is crucial to use if you want to prevent back pain. It’s designed to help keep your spine’s natural curvature in shape. This way, you won’t put extra strain on your spine which can cause poor posture and result in serious pain.
There are a few different types of lumbar support options you can use. One is a lumbar support chair. If a chair has lumbar support, you’ll see a slight curve in its backing, especially toward the bottom. This design keeps your spine aligned while also providing comfort, especially if you need to sit for a long period of time.
You could also invest in a lumbar cushion. This cushion can be placed beneath or behind you to support your spine. Most of the time, this product is made of memory foam so it will be comfortable to sit on.
If you find that your back is starting to bother you apply ice immediately. Ice blocks inflammation which can significantly decrease any pain you might feel. It will also calm tingling nerves. Ideally, keep an ice pack on the spot for about 10 minutes. Repeat this process every 2-3 hours until your back pain starts to disappear.
Another way to keep back pain away is to regularly do stretches.
You might find that working at home makes you more sedentary. This can cause tense muscles and even put strain on your vertebrae. If there is too much pressure put on them, one could slip out of place or it could shift the fluid between them which keeps them from rubbing on each other.
There are quite a few different stretches you can do at home to avoid back pain.
One is the knee-to-chest stretch. This exercise will move the lower back muscles to keep them from getting tense. To do this stretch, lie with your back flat on the ground. Then, gently lift your left leg and bend it toward your chest. As you do so, use your hands to carefully pull it forward. Once you get it as close to your chest as you can, hold the position for a few seconds and then release. Repeat with your other leg.
You could also do pelvic tilts. These tighten your stomach muscles which can stop strain in your lower back. To begin the stretch, lie with your back on the ground and bend your knees so your feet are also flat on the ground. Use your legs and upper back to slowly lift your stomach up off of the ground. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then release it. Repeat this process five times.
Another easy stretch to do for back pain is the kneeling lunge. By doing it, the stretch will expand the hip flexor muscles which connect to your lower back.
To start, stand as straight as you can. Then, slowly begin to move one of your legs forward so that your foot is flat on the ground. It’s important to keep your body balanced when doing so. One way to do this is by placing your hands on the side of your hips.
You should start to feel a slight pull in your legs. Once you do, hold the position for a few seconds while leaning your body forward. After the time has passed, return to the original position and repeat the process with your other leg.
Adjust Your Desk So It’s Ergonomic
Sometimes your desk might be the culprit behind back pain. If you have your computer on one side, papers scattered all over the place, or drawers that require you to bend down to reach them, it could result in back pain. This is because these placements are making you overextend your back muscles. Because of this, it might be good to adjust your desk so that’s more ergonomic.
If your keyboard is placed away from your computer, it might cause you to twist your body so you can type. Many people also make the mistake of putting the keyboard too high on their desk which could cause you to put your arms up higher than they should be.
Ideally, keep the keyboard about two inches above your upper thighs. You should also see if the keyboard has a slight downward tilt. This can keep your hands in their normal position to prevent putting strain on them.
Watch Your Screen
Sometimes if your computer screen is positioned too far away from you, you might find yourself bending your neck to see it. This can put significant strain on both your neck and upper spine. To find the proper distance for your computer screen, sit in your chair and extend your hand straight in front of you. Position the screen so that it touches the tip of your fingers.
Check the Lighting
You might be surprised that the type of lighting near your desk could cause back pain. If it’s too dim, you could bend your neck further toward your computer screen to see it. It’s ideal to put a type of lighting near your desk that allows you to easily see the screen without having to bend toward it. It can also prevent eye fatigue and headaches caused by poor lighting.
Don’t Use a Wrist Rest
A wrist rest is meant to help support your wrist when typing. While it might provide temporary comfort, it can actually put strain on your arms. This is because it tilts your wrist in an unnatural angle and causes it to move in strange ways when you type.
Over time, this could lead to serious health issues, including carpal tunnel. Eventually, this will travel toward your spine and cause nerve pain in it.
Instead of using a wrist rest, try to keep your arms straight on your desk. This will help to balance them while keeping them flat on the surface. It will also ensure your hands are even with your keyboard rather than trying to reach it at a strange angle.
Keep Your Feet Flat on the Floor
To prevent back pain when working from home you’ll want to make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor. If you’re working, it can be easy to move them in different positions or rest them on a table. The problem with this is that it puts strain on your lower back.
By keeping your feet flat on the floor, it will help to ensure your spine keeps its natural curvature. If you find that it’s a bit hard to do this, you could invest in a footrest. This can reduce pressure on your feet while encouraging proper posture.
However, make sure this footrest is placed on the floor. Some are built to be hung below your desk, like a hammock, so you can lift your legs up on it. This design can be very harmful to your back’s health.
If you find you’re having trouble with this, chiropractic care does work to help align your spine so you’re able to sit correctly.
It’s important to take periodic breaks when working. If you’re sitting for hours in one position, it will put stress on your spine. To help make it comfortable for you to sit, your spine might slightly shift – something which can cause you to have incorrect posture.
When working make sure to take a break every 15-30 minutes from sitting. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, but just by standing and moving your legs, it can increase blood flow and prevent back strain.
You might also consider standing up to do certain tasks. For instance, when you need to talk on the phone, get up and walk around. If you need to throw something away, place your trash can a few feet away from your desk so you need to get up and walk over to it.
Back pain is a common problem that occurs because of working, but thankfully, it can be prevented. By keeping these seven tips in mind, you’ll be able to not only avoid back pain, but keep your spine in good health.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services including chiropractic care, physical rehab therapy, and massage therapy designed to help Anchorage and Juneau patients receive long-lasting relief.
He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.