Top Tips for Working from Home
The current situation of lockdown with COVID-19 has seen a dramatic increase in the number people working from home.
If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a ‘home office’ set up already in place, we wanted to provide you with our top tips to avoid back and neck pain whilst working from home.
- Avoid working from bed or the sofa.
Working from bed or the sofa may seem tempting and it’s something we’re probably all guilty of occasionally.
However, it inevitably leads to the lower back being rounded and your chin tucked onto your chest.
In this position your spine is unsupported, especially if you’re sat with your feet up on the coffee table and your neck craning forward whilst looking down at a laptop on your lap or on the arm of the sofa.
This increases the amount of stress on your spine and, when held for long periods of time, can build up to cause back or neck pain and even headaches
If working from bed or the sofa is your only option, we recommend sitting as upright as you can, with a small cushion or rolled up towel supporting your lower back.
Keeping either one or both feet on the floor will also keep the lower back in a more neutral position.
Lastly, if you can raise your laptop up on a tray or a firm cushion or two, it will enable you to keep your neck and upper back in a better position aligned over your shoulders!
- Take regular breaks
Very rarely in an office setting do we sit in one position for the entire day. We get up to talk to colleagues, grab a drink or get something we need.
Try to get up and move at least once every hour or so – even if it is just to make yourself your 783rd cup of coffee of the morning or go and throw a ball in the garden for the dog.
Some gentle stretches are also a good way to help combat the strain of being in one position for too long – and that applies to any position or posture.
If you can, go out for a walk or jog at some point in the day rather than waiting until the evening.
Breaking up your day with some activity is the best way to look after your spine and a great way to clear your head!
- Try the kitchen or dining table
For a lot of us this is going to be the best option for working from home.
Dining chairs are usually quite upright and supportive. You can always add a small cushion in the small of your back for added support if you need it, or just for variety.
This set up and can be made even better by adding a few accessories.
If you can get hold of a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and then raise your laptop up on a few books or box files, this will make a good desk set up.
You’re aiming for the top third of your computer screen to be at eye level – so you may need to play around with the number of books needed to get the right height for you.
- Use an ironing board as a makeshift standing desk
Standing desks are becoming the rage in offices, but you needn’t shell out hundreds of pounds to get some of the benefit whilst working from home.
An ironing board or kitchen work surface can make a useful temporary alternative.
It’s also a great way to provide variety in your posture throughout the day, which is the best way to prevent back pain and stiffness building up.
Again, you’re aiming for the top third of that computer screen to be at eye level, so depending on your height you may need to use a few books or box files on top of the ironing board to get the screen to the right height.
5. Try Chin Tucks
Chin tucks are a great way to engage postural muscles in your neck. These muscles help support your spine and switching them on is protective against neck pain and headaches.
Additionally, postural muscles work in groups, so when you switch on those in your neck by tucking your chin in, the postural muscles in your lower back also switch on.
So tucking your chin in can help protect against low back pain.
6. Go for a Bruger Break
A Bruger Break is a great way of resetting your posture and easing tightness in the muscles around the front of your shoulders.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and you’ll come back feeling much better for it.
You can do them as often as you like, but try every 30 minutes for best results.
In summary, the most important thing in any office set up is the ability to vary your position regularly.
There is no perfect position to work from, just keep moving as much as possible.
The tips above might help to give you some novel ideas about how to adapt your home-office setup, but we’d love to hear what other ideas you’ve tried, successful and not so…