Dr. Z Blog

Back Pain while Working at Home?

Does your back or neck hurt after working from home? Many people have been working from home these past months and not always under the best circumstances! A lot of home offices have been put together quickly in a side room or at the dinning room table and they do not have the most supportive and comfortable chairs or working conditions for long hours on the job. Today we’re going to give you some simple tips that can help make your work from home set-up more back and neck friendly.

Let’s start with the chair, which is one of the most important aspects of the work environment, especially if you are doing a lot of desk work. First, it’s important to find a chair with a backrest that is appropriate to your height. Try to find a chair that reaches to at least your upper-middle back. A chair with a backrest that is lower than that can force the spine to work too hard in an unnatural position to stay upright. If your back rest is too high it may force you into a forward leaning or restricted posture. Your chair should also have some support for the lumbar curve. A rolled up towel or a small firm pillow can be used to support the natural curve of the lumbar spine. If you find that your chair is too deep a full sized spine pillow placed against the back of the chair can help to move you forward enough to relieve discomfort.

Next up is the seat rest. Your chair should be at a height that allows your to reach your key board or desk surface with the elbows and knees bent at a 90 degree angle with the wrists straight. The ideal seat rest height should allows for you to sit with your entire foot resting a solid surface with the back of the knees slightly higher than the seat of the chair. It may be necessary for you to find a footrest or create your own so that you can achieve this position. A footrest should be angled to provide proper support for the feet and ankles when sitting. The seat should have padding around the front edge and padded to support your bottom and eliminate pressure points. A soft blanket, pillow or folded towel can be used to add cushion to an otherwise hard chair.

Finally, the arm rests of your chair. The arm rests should allow the shoulders to sit in a neutral, relaxed position. This position will be different for everyone but when “just right” will allow your arms to flow down the side of your body in a comfortable position. If the arm rests are too high this can cause undue stress on the neck, shoulders and even your jaw! Arm rests that are too low can cause you to lean or shift to one side which creates tension and compression on one side of the spine resulting in fatigue, pain and possible injury. If your chair does not have arm rests then it becomes even more important that your seat height and backrest are set up in the best possible position for your body.

Ultimately it may be wise to invest in a high quality office chair if you know you will be spending a lot of time working from home. This will save you a lot of pain and discomfort from working long hours with bad posture. This investment may also save you some money by reducing your doctor visits & treatments for back pain!