Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, millions worldwide worked either partly or entirely from home. Thanks to the ever-evolving technologies that we have now, it is now possible to say goodbye to a tedious commute. Conferencing Platforms such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom made working remotely from the office more comfortable and convenient.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic , the number of people staying at home has significantly increased as states require non-essential employees to stay home. This sudden increase led employers to give their workers the option to work at home. If you’re one of those who have flexible working arrangements, you might notice some new aches and pains you haven’t experienced while working in the office. Your new home workspace may be a less than ideal ergonomic environment, causing your back muscle and neck pains.
So, how will you avoid getting neck and back pains? What can you do about it? Before we answer that, let us first discuss what’s causing them.
Causes of Back and Neck Pain
Companies are mandated to follow a standard design on their computer workstations. However, most home settings don’t have the space to accommodate today’s ergonomic furniture. If you’re working from home, you are most likely using your computer at a regular table. You might even be working in your bed, and this puts you in an uncomfortable position. If this goes on for an extended period, you might feel pain in your neck and back area. What are the causes of your neck and back pain?
- Uncomfortable sitting position
- Looking down at your computer screen
- Reading from a document or your iPad that is flat on the table
- Not taking stretch breaks
- Not resting your feet flat on the floor or foot support
- Doing most of your work on your bed
Find a cozy area in your home that avoids distractions and where you can sit comfortably. Sitting for an extended period causes your hip flexors to shorten. If left unstretched, it can affect the position and movement of your lower back. Your seated position can also hurt your back, especially if you have a bad posture or don’t use an ergonomic chair. Furthermore, sitting for more extended periods while having poor posture can cause compression on the discs in your spine that can result in chronic pain.
Sit in a comfortable, and if possible, an adjustable chair. Ensure that you can sit back in your chair so that the back of the chair supports your body weight. Position your body where you can easily reach your keyboard and mouse. If you’re using a chair in your dining table, you can add some pillows to have additional padding or place a roll-up towel near your lower back for support.
Place your screen in front of you at a comfortable viewing height. Position your computer or laptop in a way where you don’t have to look down when typing. Also, don’t angle your screen in a way that you must twist your neck. For example, some people prefer to have their keyboard and mouse on one side of the table while their screen is on the other. This position might result in having to deal with neck pain from too much swiveling. If you are using a laptop, you might find it helpful to put it on a pile of books or anything to elevate it to a comfortable viewing position.
When you view any paper or documents that are flat from the table, and you have to move your head up and down always, it can cause neck pain. Read from your desk with a straight neck. If you need to go back and forth between your laptop and separate reading material, use a bookstand or an iPad holder.
It is essential to take frequent breaks to stretch and relax your muscles. Merely getting out of your seated position and walking around your house is beneficial to your neck and back. A change in scenery and moving to a different workspace within your home can also reduce the risk of back pain associated with prolonged sitting.
Your feet need to be supported to avoid lower back pain. It would help if you’re not working cross-legged, and your feet are flat on the floor. Don’t pull your feet back underneath the chair or let them dangle in the air. If your feet don’t reach the ground, use a footrest, a box or a stack of books for support.
There’s nothing wrong with doing your work in bed unless you are sitting on the side of the bed, where your legs will not support your laptop. When you work cross-legged in your bed, you will have to hunch over to see your computer, which is too low for optimal screen viewing. If you have no other option but to work in your bed, put a pillow behind your back to rest against the headboard. Put your laptop on a pillow in your lap to elevate its position. This way, you can type at a comfortable height without straining your neck.
It is crucial to make your home office ergonomically designed to have a neutral posture—a comfortable position where no body parts are awkwardly bent or twisted. We’ve provided tips to lessen the chances of getting back and neck pain while working at home. If you’re experiencing neck and back pain, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Ronak Patel. He specializes in treating back pain, neck pain, joint pain, facial pain, and cancer-related pain. He focuses on developing individualized patient treatment plans and helping patients regain functionality.
Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.