Is working from home overworking your back?

Working remotely from home definitely has its benefits: a shorter commute, casual dress code, full control of the thermostat, and furry friends as co-workers. But there can be some trade-offs too. As houses and apartments suddenly turned into offices, many remote workers ended up slouched on the couch, using unsupportive chairs, and even working longer hours with less physical activity – all of which can lead to back pain and neck pain.

If your home workspace has left you with aches and pains, read on as Dr. Zack Smith shares some tips to help prevent back and neck problems and discusses when pain may require a visit to the doctor.

4 Tips for Preventing or Reducing Back or Neck Pain When Working from Home:

  • Pay attention to your posture
  • Improve your workstation
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Exercise and stretch regularly

Pay attention to your posture

Learning to maintain proper posture throughout the workday can help prevent back and neck pain. If you find yourself slouching or hunching over your computer, you may be straining your upper back and shoulder muscles and weakening the chest muscles. Sitting straight with a neutral spine is ideal, but an improper workstation can prevent you from sitting properly. If you start having pain on one side of the body it may cause you to shift and put more pressure on the other side of the body – potentially leading to pain on both sides!

Improve your Workstation

A bed, armchair or sofa may be great for relaxing, but it’s not ideal for spending hours hunched over your computer. Setting up a dedicated workspace with a good quality office chair and a table or desk can vastly improve your WFH experience. Some things to consider: Is your desk too high or too low? Your desk should be positioned so that your computer monitor is roughly at eye level and your elbows are bent no more than 90 degrees. Does your chair have proper cushioning and lumbar support or does it put pressure on the low back and hips? You should look for a chair with enough cushion and support so you can comfortably sit with your spine in a neutral position and both feet flat on the ground. You can also consider a standing desk or standing desk converter to strengthen your muscles and keep you upright while you work.
Pain from Remote Working | Back Pain San Antonio

Take frequent breaks

Many remote workers find that they end up working longer hours and taking less breaks at home. Set a timer for yourself to get up and take a break every 30 minutes, even if it’s just to stand, stretch, and give your eyes a rest. Or, take a quick trip to the kitchen for a coffee or water refill to get a change of scenery and a few steps in.

Exercise and stretch regularly

Regular exercise can help strengthen and support your back – try and schedule a 30 minute walk, yoga class, swim, or other activity at least once a day. Stretching before and after your physical activity will also help keep your muscles strong and limber.

When to See a Doctor

If you are still experiencing significant back or neck pain after changing your lifestyle and behaviors, you may need to make an appointment to see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you are experiencing weakness, tingling, or numbness in your limbs; if the pain stops you from participating in normal activities; or if it causes you to lose sleep at night. If your chronic back or neck pain does not improve or worsens over several weeks, a pain management specialist may be able to help.

A pain management specialist can evaluate your symptoms and give you a customized treatment plan to manage or eliminate your pain. Based on your medical history, lifestyle, and symptoms, there are a variety of treatment options to consider. If you are experiencing chronic neck or back pain – request a consultation or give us a call and we’ll discuss your options.

*The PainSmith team has reviewed this information. It is intended for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. Please discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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