Since the start of the pandemic, many of us had the opportunity to work from home. At first, this sounded great. Wake up, make coffee, head to your makeshift workstation and get after it. However, it also comes with a host of other challenges, potentially including back pain.
So what are the factors that might be causing this back pain? First off, a poor work chair which will usually this will be in the form of a chair without back support, a bar stool, a soft chair, or bench. This sets you up for poor seated postures that create extra stress on the neck, upper back, lower back and shoulders.
Additionally, you potentially could be moving around less during the day (no walk from your parking lot to the office) or posture changes during the day. These prolonged periods of inactivity cause stiffness and tightness in joints of the knees hips, shoulders, lower back and upper back. This repeated stress on the tissues of the back and neck from prolonged sitting can cause a host of issues.
The next culprit is less than optimal ergonomic placement of the computer, mouse or documents. This places extra stress on the upper back, neck, wrists, and elbows which can result in pain in the tissues around these joints.
So let's explore some of the things that you can do to offset these factors.
Find a straight backed chair that has some support at your lower back. McKenzie lumbar support rolls are an excellent tool to provide that support because they help to cue proper lower back position placing it in a more mid range position avoiding excessive stress.
Find a table that will allow you to keep this proper seated position and your elbows bent at 90 degree angles to your workstation. This is the proper position to reduce stress on the elbow joint.
Prop your computer or laptop on a higher surface. When seated, the camera should be at eye level. This will allow you to softly gaze downward. If you have a bluetooth keyboard, it will help to keep your arms and neck in the proper position.
The best posture, is the posture that changes regularly. Set an alarm on your phone for 30-40 minutes and adjust your posture, or even better go for a walk or stretch.
Try standing up, placing your hands on your lower back and bending backwards.
Perform work laying on your front propped up on your elbows. This extends your head and lower back, which is the opposite of the seated position. This is pictured here and how Nicky likes to work.
Sit on a stability ball to stimulate a bit of balance and body position sense.
When standing, change foot position. For example, have a small step under the table, and rest your foot on it. This will change the forces on your back and hips unloading some tissues whilst loading others. Switch after a 10-15 minutes.
Stand on a balance pad or wobble board, this can add a fun challenge, change your posture, and improve your balance at the same time. I always like two for one benefits.
Interrupt times of work with performing squats, pushups, some yoga poses, bending backwards, stretch your hips with stepping back lunges, move your back with downward dog to up dog flows or just go outside and walk around. These mini micro pause breaks can help to energize your mind and energize your body.