With so many people now working from home, we get a lot of people asking us about how they can set up their office to avoid getting back and neck pain.
We’ve seen lots of people who have been really creative with how they’ve set up their home working spaces. We’ve had people sitting on beanbags with a laptop on the coffee table. People sitting at their kitchen tables or even on their bed. Some people have a full home office, but most don’t have much equipment at all.
Here are some things we can all do regardless of what kit and set up you have
Try to sit as far back in the chair as you can. The back rest will give you more support in that position, and you’ll avoid uncomfortable pressure on the back of your legs
A rolled up towel in the small of your back can help you sit in a better position. Big enough to stop your back slouching, but not so big it pushes you forwards
Bring the chair as close to the table as possible. This will stop you leaning forwards, which tends to put more pressure on your neck, shoulders and back.
If possible, try to sit somewhere where your elbows are level with the desk. That way, your wrists should be straight when typing, which reduces strain on the muscles. This helps avoid things like tennis elbow which is really common in people who pull their wrists back to type.
However well you set up the desk, it’s important to move regularly. A lot of the aches and pains associated with working at a desk are down to people not moving enough. We are designed to move and so even if you’re in the best posture (if that existed), but you’re not moving, you’re still likely to get pain.
You don’t have to stand up and walk around all the time. Simply tilt your head to one side when you’re reading an email. Tilt it to the other whilst you reply. Sit up as tall as you can and stretch upwards when you’re reading another email. Perhaps you can stand up when you’re on the phone.
Try to eat your lunch away from your desk, and take regular breaks during the day. If you were in the office, you’d regularly be moving: to go to the toilet, to get a drink, to speak to a colleague. At home, people often don’t move away from their desks for hours at a time.
However you can fit movement into your day, do so. Some kind of movement every 20-30 minutes really helps reduce stiffness associated with sitting for long periods.
Where to put your screen
Put your screen directly in front of you. If it’s even a little bit to the left or right of you, then you can get much more tension on one side than the other
Try to put it at a height that means you can look straight ahead rather than up or down.
If you’re using a laptop, try and get a separate mouse and keyboard so that you can put the screen at the right height
Most people put their screens too far away. This means you’ll lean forwards to look at it. Instead, put it about an arms length away from you.
Try to make sure there isn’t any glare on the screen as this can make you sit awkwardly. Closing blinds or curtains can help this.
Clear a space
Make sure you can put your feet under the desk or table that you’re using. If there’s lots of clutter, you’ll likely twist or cross your legs to avoid it. Both of these are fine for short periods, but not when you’re sitting like that all day.
Make sure you have plenty of space on your desk. Try to get the keyboard and mouse as close to you as possible.
Keep whatever you’re using most in front of you. If you’re typing, keep the keyboard in front of you. If you’re just using the mouse or writing, move the keyboard out of the way and put the paper or the mouse in front of you. Remember, the keyboard and mouse are not stuck to the table!
By following these simple steps, you should reduce the chances of you having neck and back pain when working from home
If you’re still struggling, then there are some great products for helping with your aches and pains in our shop. Heat and self massage can really help those annoying niggles.
If the pain is not settling whatever you do, then get in touch with us. We can help with a free 15 minute assessment online, or full assessment and treatment in one of our clinics. Book your session here.