Working from Home and Back Pain: Finding Relief in the Remote Era
Amid the global pandemic, #WFH (working from home) became the new norm for millions of employees. While the absence of long commutes and office politics seemed like a dream come true, a hidden villain emerged from the shadows: back pain. Here I’ll unveil an intriguing twist to the work-from-home phenomenon, exploring how the comforts of our homes may be exacting a heavy toll on our spines.
My working-from-home journey started long before the pandemic, and while it has its perks, it also comes with its challenges. As I settled into my daily routine, one aspect that required my attention was the ergonomics of my workspace. Ensuring a comfortable and supportive chair and an appropriately positioned desk was essential for my productivity and overall well-being. However, this was all new to me at the outset as I came from a corporate environment with people employed to check that your desk, chair and computer were all positioned correctly. Inevitably I made some mistakes and had to make some fast changes to get my setup working comfortably.
However, as remote working became forced upon millions of people worldwide, homes were quickly turned into office spaces and often resulted in makeshift setups. Without proper ergonomic guidance or access to adjustable furniture, countless individuals have found themselves hunched over inadequate desks or kitchen tables or sitting in chairs that offer little support. As a result, home environments are sabotaging postures and contributing to an epidemic of back and neck pain.
The latest figures show a rise in back problems are causing more time off sick
The latest data from the ONS shows an upward trend in days lost to sickness. The data also indicate that musculoskeletal problems are rising and are the second biggest issue for absenteeism. This rise is likely linked to the shift in home working during the pandemic.
Remember those impromptu conversations at the office water cooler? It turns out they were more than just idle chatter. These breaks were essential for stretching your legs, releasing tension, and giving your backs a much-needed reprieve. The absence of these informal breaks has resulted in prolonged sitting and its detrimental effects on spinal health.
Virtual meetings became a lifeline for remote collaboration, but they also gave birth to a new breed of worker: the “Zoom Zombie.” Excessive screen time and prolonged sitting during back-to-back video conferences are also causing a surge in musculoskeletal discomfort.
In the quest for optimal productivity, we need to remember the importance of movement. Regular physical activity can be the ultimate remedy for back pain from exercise to micro-breaks. Uncover innovative solutions like standing desks, active sitting, and desk exercises to help you stay active while working from home.
I’m fortunate to work for a natural health company that has understood for a long time how prolonged sitting is detrimental to your health and is said to be worse than smoking. I was given an adjustable standing desk which means I can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. It’s a welcome change that promotes better posture and boosts my energy levels, helping me stay focused and healthy as I tackle my tasks from the comfort of my home office.
Working from home promised freedom and flexibility but unleashed an unexpected adversary: back pain. It is becoming clear that our homes may not be as comfortable and ergonomic as we assumed. By understanding the challenges and implementing practical strategies, we can reclaim our spinal health and find the perfect balance between productivity and pain-free work-from-home bliss.
6 Ways to Combat Neck and Back Pain While Working From Home
With more and more businesses offering flexible/hybrid working options, it’s essential to understand how to take care of our bodies to avoid long-term problems. Here are some healthy ways to help you combat neck and back pain while working from home.
- Raise Your Work Surface with Standing Desks: Sitting all day can cause stiffness in the neck and back muscles. Standing desks help raise your work surface to eye level, drastically reducing neck and back pressure. It also promotes better posture, reduces the risk of certain diseases, and lets you burn more calories than sitting. You can also use a laptop holder to lift your screen to eye level when seated.
- Use a Cushion or Pillow to Support the Lower Back: A lumbar cushion or pillow provides essential support to the lower back when sitting for extended periods. A cushion helps reduce muscle strain, improve posture, and promote a better seating position.
- Invest in an Ergonomic Chair: An ergonomic chair is ideal for maintaining a good posture while sitting. An ergonomic chair supports the neck and back correctly, unlike any ordinary office chair. It also promotes better blood circulation and reduces the risk of stiffness.
- Active Sitting: Active sitting is an approach to sitting that encourages movement and engagement of the body’s core muscles. It involves using chairs or seating options that promote dynamic posture and require constant adjustments to maintain balance and stability. Active sitting chairs typically feature designs that allow for more freedom of movement, such as ergonomic stools, stability balls, or kneeling chairs.
- Take Frequent Breaks and Stretch: Frequent breaks and stretching exercises can help reduce neck and back pain. A five-minute break is recommended every hour to reduce the risk of postural problems.
- Get Moving with Yoga or Pilates: Sitting for extended hours can put pressure on our neck and back muscles, causing pain. Therefore, practising exercises or stretches that alleviate this pain is essential. Yoga or Pilates provides various poses and stretches that help improve flexibility, alignment and reduce the risk of neck and back pain.
Natural Pain Relief Solutions
Healthpoint™ Electro-Acupressure Device
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain from working at home, there may be a solution to help alleviate your discomfort: an electro-acupressure device. I recommend using Healthpoint™, a device you can use from the comfort of your home.
This innovative device targets specific pressure points on your body, providing relief and promoting healing. By applying gentle electrical stimulation to these acupressure points, the device can help reduce muscle tension, increase blood circulation, and stimulate the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. With regular use, this technology can be a convenient and effective way to address the aches and pains arising from prolonged sitting or poor posture while working from home.
When it comes to natural pain relief, one promising option to consider is curcumin. Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric, a popular spice known for its vibrant yellow colour and potent anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have suggested that curcumin possesses analgesic effects, making it a potential ally in the battle against pain. Its ability to inhibit inflammatory molecules and enzymes in the body may help reduce pain associated with conditions like arthritis, muscle soreness, and even chronic back and neck pain.
Furthermore, curcumin enhances the body’s antioxidant defence mechanisms, supporting overall well-being. While curcumin can be obtained through dietary sources like turmeric, concentrated supplements like the Curcuminx4000 are recommended for more therapeutic effects.
Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” is crucial to our health, including musculoskeletal well-being. However, when working from home, we may spend less time outdoors and receive fewer opportunities for natural sunlight exposure. This can have implications for our vitamin D levels and, subsequently, our pain and inflammation.
Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of musculoskeletal pain, including back, neck, and joint discomfort. Adequate vitamin D levels are crucial for maintaining bone health, supporting proper muscle function, and modulating the body’s inflammatory responses. Many home workers will find it beneficial to supplement with vitamin D3 throughout the year to support optimal levels.
In conclusion, working from home has its unique challenges, particularly in maintaining good posture, managing back pain, and promoting musculoskeletal health. The shift to remote work during the pandemic has highlighted the importance of prioritising ergonomics and investing in appropriate office equipment, such as supportive chairs and adjustable desks.
Additionally, exploring alternative methods for pain relief, such as home electro-acupressure devices and natural remedies like curcumin, can offer valuable solutions for alleviating discomfort. Furthermore, recognising the significance of vitamin D and taking proactive steps to ensure adequate levels can contribute to a healthier musculoskeletal system.
Combining these strategies can help us create a more harmonious work environment, minimising pain and inflammation and promoting overall well-being. Embracing a holistic approach to ergonomics, pain management, and musculoskeletal health will contribute to a more productive and pain-free remote work experience.