5 ways to look after your back when working from home
As more people are working from home amidst the COVID19 pandemic, looking after your back and minimising resultant back pain is more important than ever.
Even if you don’t have scoliosis or any pre-existing back conditions, sitting down at a desk all day can cause no end of aches and pains.
I’ve been working from home since mid March and it really does not help my back sitting down all day.
I thought I’d share 5 tips that I have been using to help my back and minimise pain whilst working from home.
Disclaimer! These tips are based on my own experiences with scoliosis and working from home. If you have any back pain as a result of working from home, it’s best to consult with your employer, Dr or physiotherapist.
The main thing that works for me is to move around as much as possible throughout the day. I find quick breaks little and often (where I go to make a drink or walk around my flat) help a lot. It can be easy to get carried away with work and not move at all during the day. I find this causes my back to really stiffen up so I try to get up out of my chair and move around as much as I can.
Tip! If you have a fitness watch like a Fitbit or Garmin, you can set a reminder which tells you when you need to move throughout the day.
During lockdown, I’ve really gotten into yoga. I would recommend doing regular stretches and/or Yoga to help stretch things out whilst working from home. I sometimes do yoga in my lunch break if I have time, or in the morning before I start work. There are lots of short 15-20 minute yoga videos on YouTube for example which are easy to fit into your day. I find it helps me to loosen up after being sat down at my desk but can also help me to relax and de-stress if I’m having a particularly busy day.
My favourite YouTube yoga videos are Yoga with Adrienne, who even has a Yoga for Scoliosis video!
If you have a fused spine like me, some yoga moves can sometimes be a bit awkward to do. In this case, you could consider working with a yoga teacher trained in scoliosis and back care for 1-2-1 sessions that you could fit into your lunch break or do before/after work – check out my blog post Yoga for Scoliosis for more details.
WALK AT LUNCH
When working from home, you generally move less and take less steps throughout the day. This can be very bad for your back (and fitness levels!) For these reasons, I try to make sure I go for a walk every day for about 20-30 minutes in my lunch break, whatever the weather.
This helps my back immensely as if I don’t go for a walk, I tend to stiffen up and get pain after sitting at a desk all day. I really feel the difference if I don’t go for a walk that’s for sure. If you have a lunch break, try to go for a quick walk if you can. Or you could try getting up a bit earlier and going before work. This also has the benefit of waking you up before you start your day too. 🙂
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A DECENT CHAIR
This is pretty crucial, but even more so if you have scoliosis. I know some people will be sat at the kitchen table or on the sofa whilst working from home. For a while, this may be ok, but longer term it will cause problems. At the office, I had a pretty decent chair that was bought specifically for my back condition. It has a supportive back and a memory foam base and it was recommended following a specialist H&S assessment I had due to my condition.
At the start of the lockdown, I didn’t even consider my chair to be honest. When I first started working from home, I was sat on an old office chair I had already at home. After a couple of months though, I started to get pain and it became increasingly uncomfortable to sit on all day. In the end, after 3 months, I finally got my chair from the office and brought it home. It’s soooo much better. If you have scoliosis and work from home, you NEED a specialist chair. If your chair causes you discomfort then speak to your employer. They should be able to provide you with a specialist chair that is better for your back.
CHECK YOUR DESK SET UP
This links to the last point. If you work in an office, you probably have had a risk assessment at some point to ensure all your equipment is in the right place. If not, you really should have done!
It’s also important that this is done for your home office. I have found recently that purchasing a laptop riser to ensure that my laptop is level with my eye-line has made a huge difference. Prior to this, I was getting bad neck and back pain from looking down all day at my laptop screen. It’s crazy how little things like this can make a real difference. If you worked from home now and again, you probably wouldn’t notice, but after months these small things can cause real issues and pain.
If you need assistance with making sure your desk is set up safely, I would recommend speaking to your employer, who should ideally carry out a home working risk assessment.
These are my five tips, have you got any to add? I’d be interested to hear your views and how you cope with looking after your back and managing pain when working from home.
Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
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I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.