02 Aug After Months of Working at Home, How is Your Back and Neck Feeling?
So many people are working at home at the moment, and have set up their work station at the dining room table. All of these months later, perhaps your neck or lower back has become stiff or sore. Our bodies are meant to move, so if you are sitting for many hours for work, and not getting out like you typically would, then you could be too sedentary for these past months. You no longer have a commute, and outside of work you’re sitting in front of the television or reading—over all of this time, that can lead to a stiff or sore back or neck. It can be easy to employ some strategies to make your work day efficient, and keep yourself moving as well:
Set up your chair: You do not need an expensive chair with all the adjustments to be helpful. Important features would be a chair that is height adjustable, so that you can keep your feet on the floor. It is easy to add a supplemental lumbar support—even roll up a towel—and place it in the small of your back to support the natural inward curve that is in your back when you stand.
Regularly move in your work day: They say that “your best posture is your next posture”, so set a reminder to beep at you every hour, and stand up momentarily and stretch your spine backward (Fig. 1), or lean backward over the top of your chair (Fig 2). Both of these movements are positions that should not be painful, but get you out of the common rounding forward position in which we tend to live. If you have a meeting with one or two other people over Zoom, why not make it a “walking” meeting?Move around the block to have the meeting, and then write any notes when you get back.
Vary your working position: As odd as it sounds, a nice alternative to sitting could be working on your stomach with some pillows under your chest to keep a slight arch in your back. You would keep your laptop on the floor or bed, and this position is nice to get your spine out of the typically rounded forward posture (Fig. 3). You can also stand for part of your work day by putting your laptop on a higher surface, or an external keyboard and mouse that allow you to work at the correct height. You could also make it a practice to stand every time you take a telephone call. If you have a wireless headset, you could walk around as you’re on the call.
All of these practices are easy to establish in your work day to allow for more position changes and movement. As we continue to be at home more than ever before, your spine will thank you for it!