With the current Covid-19 crisis and nationwide lockdown many of us are working from home. Of course, most people’s homes are not equipped for everyday office work. Your dining room table may make a great temporary solution for a home office space, but without an ergonomic work desk and office chair, you’re more than likely experiencing some back pain and headaches after a few days or weeks working from home.
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While it may be tempting to sink into the couch, perch on a stool at the kitchen counter, or laze about in bed with your laptop, this can result in some serious back pain down the road. Luckily there area few simple things you can do to make your home workspace as ergonomic as possible. Here are a few simple ways to avoid back pain and headaches while working from during lockdown.
Take regular breaks
Bottom line, your back hates being in the same position for hours on end. Taking regular breaks is the simplest way to avoid back pain. Do your best to get out of your chair every 30 minutes, even if you just stand up for half a minute. This will give you the opportunity to change to load through the back and give it the respite it needs. If you find you forget to stand up because you’re engrossed in your work, set a timer on your phone to remind you to move.
If you’re tuning in for a video meeting, you can also try holding your phone or tablet and walking around the room while you’re on the call. This should help to give your back a break from long bouts of sitting after a few online meetings every day.
Optimise your home workspace
While we don’t all have a proper desk and office chair at home, a few basic changes to your work-from-home set-up can make all the difference. First off, sit upright. Try sitting at the dining table if you have one. Next, ensure your elbows are at roughly 90 degrees so you’re not stretching for the keyboard and mouse while you work. Set up your chair so that your knees and hips are at around 90 degrees and your feet touch the floor.
Setting up your laptop or computer is also key. Try to ensure the top of your screen is in line with your eyes. You can do this by raising your laptop up and using a separate keyboard and mouse. If you’re still having problems, ask someone at home to take a picture of you at your computer so you can see if you are slouching or your set up is correct. For a bit of added support, try placing a small cushion in the small of your back.
Use heat to relieve any pain
If you’re still struggling with pain, use heat to release some of the discomfort you are feeling. Heat can be great for relieving pain and stiffness in the back. Using a hot water bottle, a heat pack, or microwaveable bean bag in the area of pain can help for short term relief. Just make sure the pack is not too hot, to avoid burns.
Don’t forget to exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent back pain from sitting all day. Many health experts advise that adults should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. But that doesn’t mean you have to sweat for a full 150 minutes. Break your exercise up into as little as 10-minute chunks everyday or, at the very least, incorporate a few strength and flexibility exercises into your daily routine to keep your body moving and maintain a healthy strong back.
Try exercise movements like side planks and glute bridges, as well as yoga stretches like the cat/cow backstretch and child’s pose to help with flexibility. These exercises should be comfortable while offering a challenge, so increase the repetitions if they start to become easy.
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