The ongoing corona pandemic is seeing many of us adapt to using our homes as a new work environment. Spending hours slouched at kitchen tables or home-office desks could lead to discomfort, pain or injuries if we don’t take some precautions.
Understandably not everyone can invest in decent chairs and desks at home. Most of us probably end up with temporary desk setups that may not offer the best lumbar support. So, we asked our talented Osteopath, Chan, to provide easy tips to help us avoid pain and injuries.
Read on for Chan’s work from home tips to avoid lower back and joint injuries.
1) Set up an ergonomic desk
When sitting down, make sure your bottom is fully sat on the chair with your back supported against the backrest. This helps you assume the correct posture supporting your lower back. You can use a pillow if you need to further support your lumbar spine.
Place your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t, adjust the height of your chair or use a footrest. A box or similar will do for this. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Avoid crossing your legs as this contributes to poor posture and back pain.
Be mindful that your elbows should be by the sides of your body, and your arms form an L-shape at the elbow joint so you can use the keyboard and mouse efficiently.
Place your screen at eye level, the top of the screen should line up with your eyes. This is important as bending your neck to look up or down your monitor can contribute to bad posture and headaches. You might need to use a monitor stand or some books to adjust the height of your screen. If you use a laptop, invest in an external keyboard and a mouse to help you adjust the laptop’s height to meet your eye level.
Keep your screen clean and away from light reflections. The dirt and glare can cause eye strains and force you to assume bad desk postures and inevitably back pain.
Bifocal glasses could contribute to back pain as they can make it harder to see areas of the screen easily without moving your head. If you cannot work comfortably with bifocals, you may need a different type of glasses. Consult your optician for advice if in doubt.
2) Take regular breaks
There are many benefits to taking regular short breaks, such as increasing productivity and improving information retention. Frequent short breaks are also good for your back as they give your muscles a chance to relax while others take the strain. Sitting all day at a makeshift desk is terrible for your back.
When working at home, you can use the short breaks for quick workouts and stretches. You could touch your toes, stand and bring one knee at a time to your chest, jog on the spot for a few minutes, climb up and down the stairs, or even do a short exercise routine. Not only will your back thank you, but you will notice the pumping difference when you sit down at your desk!
3) Exercise regularly
No set of advice is complete without recommending physical exercise, especially those that strengthen your core and back. After all, it’s not healthy to remain sedentary all day. So, I suggest you get a stretching and strengthening exercise routine in place at least 3 times a week.
Your exercise routine could be as simple as taking a 30min brisk walk, as many have discovered during the lockdown, or you could to follow online fitness workout courses. You may surprise yourself.
Bonus tip: keep a daily routine
Avoid working from your bed. Sitting in bed to work on a laptop is worse for your back than sitting on a chair as you’re more likely to hunch or use your legs to support your computer than having a good posture.
Instead, I advise you to make a point of getting out of bed, getting ready and dressed as you usually would when going out to work. So, no loungewear and put some shoes on.
This advice, not only can prevent back pain but goes a long way to maintaining a positive outlook, keeping your mental health in top shape.
There are many wellbeing websites with tips and helps for keeping your mind healthy. Never be afraid to look at such sites. If you need help, it is OK to ask. On a side note, Sally, our counsellor, is offering telephone and video type appointments.
Chan is on standby to help with back, shoulder or neck pain, and more. Get in touch today to book your appointment.