5 Back Health Tips for Working from Home
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, have you recently found yourself working from home? Many of us suddenly went from having to commute across town to walking across our home to begin the workday. There are numerous advantages to working from home, like greater flexibility and, of course, being able to stay in your jammies all day.
But working from home can also take a toll on your back, especially if your office or workstation is not ergonomic. There are also other disadvantages including easy access to the refrigerator, limited access to the gym, and the added stress of dealing with a global pandemic.
1. Setting up an Ergonomic Workspace
One of the first things you should do in order to maintain spinal health while working from home is to ensure your at-home workspace is ergonomic. While a high quality ergonomic office chair is optimal, it is not required for improvement. You simply need a chair that allows you to keep both feet on the floor, and a desk that keeps your work device at eye level. This will allow you to sit up straight without straining your neck to see while keeping your lower back supported. As tempting as it is to work from a comfortable bed or couch, doing so forces your body into an unnatural position and will result in neck and back pain. Some people prefer using a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball—these are great ways to add variance, but device height and posture are still important to be conscious of.
Because you are spending your work day sitting, setting up a more ergonomic workspace is the foundation of maintaining a healthy spine while working from home.
2. Sit Correctly
You may not have access to your ergonomic chair while you’re working from home, but you can help protect your back by concentrating on how you sit. “When working from your sofa, ensure your knees are at a 90-degree vertical bend,” said Happiful Magazine. “You might need to rest your feet on something (a box or a cushion) to do this. To create better support for your lower back, roll up a towel, or use a small cushion and place it in the small of your back.”
3. Take Regular Breaks
Not only are screen breaks important for your eyes and mental health, but implementing regular breaks throughout the day will help alleviate back and neck pain by allowing movement to loosen up the spine, joints, and muscles by hitting a sort of reset switch.
Just hourly micro-breaks of alternating from standing to sitting, and taking a small walk around the room and stretching your muscles can make big improvements. Doing breathing exercises as you move your body for just a few minutes at a time will keep your joints and muscles warm, and promote connected mind/body awareness.
4. Exercise and Stretch Daily
Even if you aren’t engaging in a full work out, just a simple morning stretch sequence can help maintain the flexibility of your spine and therefore keep pain at bay. Even doing stretches while sitting at your desk can help! Practice neck hygiene (avoid doing neck circles which can cause strain), stretch out your arms, and even stand to do a quick forward fold or leg stretch.
Need help with ideas for daily movement? Check out our morning stretch routine that will warm your joints and muscles to prepare your spine and body for the day. You can also implement these exercises into your regular micro-breaks.
5. Healthy Daily Habits
It may seem unrelated, but eating healthy and maintaining overall healthier habits like abstaining from smoking, or keeping alcohol at a minimal level can really improve your spinal health. When you feel healthy inside and out, it is easier to remain conscious of your daily habits and choose the right ones. This is also in part because keeping a regular sleep schedule is crucial to your spine’s health.
Optimal spinal health is directly impacted by your sleep posture and overall sleep hygiene. A bad night sleep tossing and turning can cause you to wake up with immediate pain that is hard to overcome the rest of the day. To help, ensure you have a comfortable, but supportive mattress and pillows—and don’t overdo it with the pillows, which will create an unnatural neck position. You want to optimally avoid certain sleep positions like side-sleeping or sleeping on your stomach, which do not support the lower back or neck. Just like you do when sitting at your desk or standing, try your best to keep your body in alignment as you sleep. This will not only help you avoid neck and back pain in general, but will also have you starting your day on a positive note, encouraging healthy wellbeing the rest of the day.
Overall, creating and maintaining healthy habits at home is up to you.
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