Keeping the back-ache at bay

28 April 2020

Working at home we're away from our usual desks and working in all sorts of places, the kitchen table, a little home office, the coffee table even. In our team meetings we've been discussing how to keep our backs from aching as well as keeping good posture whilst working in unusual places - who would have thought we would miss our desks and chairs so much!

 

Belinda, one of our senior consultants who suffers from a chronic back condition and has spent time working from home, gave us lots of tips she has gathered over the years along with advice from her physiotherapist.

 

  • Tempting as it is, don’t cross your legs under the table as you will twist your lower spine and put pressure on your knees.
  • Keep your hips slightly higher than your knees, using a cushion to prop you up if needs be.
  • If working from a laptop, place it on a book so that you are not looking down at your laptop and instead are looking towards it, this will help your neck. Ideally your eye level should be looking at the middle of your screen.
  • Make sure your arms are resting on a table at a right angle when you are typing, and keep the laptop far enough away from you that when you are typing it is only your hands and wrists that are moving rather than your whole arm. This will alleviate the pressure on your traps/shoulders.
  • Try to keep shoulders relaxed, making sure they are not hunching up towards your ears. They should be loose, relaxed and back.
  • If your middle is slumped, try to sit up straighter and engage your core, this will help take pressure off of your lower back.

 

 

Some other bits of wisdom we have picked up...

 

Where to work?

  • Be at a table of some sort, and avoid the sofa/sitting on a bed if you can as leaning your arms on a surface will help avoid neck and shoulder pain and should minimise the amount of looking down you have to do.
  • If you prefer standing then the kitchen counter can be a good place to work - just ensure that your laptop is elevated so that you don't get a crick in your neck whilst staring down.

 

Items from the office

 

  • If it's possible, it may be worth popping into the office to get your mouse, keyboard and even desk chair, your desk chair is likely to have better lower back support than the dining table chairs. Your mouse and keyboard can help you to maintain better posture, with the screen of your laptop at eye level and keyboard within easy reach, mimicking the desktop set up at the office.

 

Breaks

  • It is important for your physical wellbeing to take breaks from your desk, allowing your body to loosen up.
  • In the office we take breaks to get something from the printer, go to a meeting, pop out for lunch, visit a shop, make a cup of tea and so on. Allow yourself to step away from your work from home set up and stretch your spine.
  • It's also important for your eyes, make sure you look away from your screen every 30 minutes to something further in the distance. This will help avoid long term eye strain.

 

Some stretching and exercises that could help you!