Working from home does come with its perks, but back pain associated with sitting at badly set up desk areas is not one of them!
Pair that with our decreased lack of activity and the extra stresses brought on by the increasingly blurred lines between work time and leisure time, it’s fair to say that the spines of the nation are not looking in good shape.
So, whether you’re working from home or just regularly sit for long periods of time in front of the computer, try these top tips to keep you ‘back aware’ with a strong, pain free back for life.
Here are some simple ways you can look after your back if you’re working at your desk from home right now.
- Check your sitting position. Sitting on the edge of the chair will help to keep your spine upright and your posture in a good, neutral position. This will strengthen your core muscles which support good back function all round.
- Avoid sitting for long periods in soft, ‘comfortable’ chairs. Even worse, do not sit in your bed to work! Your back needs a harder seated surface to allow good posture to occur.
- If you can, use a standing desk. If you don’t have a custom made one, you can raise your computer or laptop onto some boxes or books to elevate your workstation. Standing is always better than sitting.
- If you’re struggling to find a comfortable position while seated use a lumbar support fitted to the back of your chair or a comfortable curved back cushion to help with sitting in a good position all day
- Don’t tuck your feet under your chair when seated. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle. You can also stretch your legs outwards while sitting which helps to maintain and improve hip function and mobility.
- Swimming, yoga and pilates are great exercises for strengthening the back, without high impact on the joints.
- Try some simple stretching exercises using exercise bands - for example upright rows, arm extensions or wide arm stretches. The resistance in the bands will help to quickly build strong back and shoulder muscles and these exercises can be done in just a few minutes each day while you take a break from your desk.
- Do some full-range hip movement exercises - try lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Gently lower both legs/knees to each side while keeping your back flat on the ground.
- Keep moving! If you do nothing else, make sure you get up from your chair and walk around every 20 minutes.
Still in Pain?
Although back pain in most cases will clear up after a couple of days it’s absolutely essential that you immediately seek urgent medical care if your pain persists or if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Numbness in your legs or bottom
- Loss of sensation or control in your bladder or bowel
- Numbness in your lower back and back passage
- Sudden, severe spinal pain when lying down
- Tenderness in the spine
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