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Addressing Back Pain While Working From Home

With the recent transition from ergonomic office spaces to kitchen tables and living room couches, it is no surprise that back, neck, and shoulder pain can arise or worsen in this new working environment. Sitting for prolonged periods of time in the wrong position can place undue stress on spinal discs and muscles, causing you pain even after the work day has concluded. Therefore, it is important to evaluate and adjust your work space accordingly to meet your body's needs and improve your efficiency and safety. As a physiatrist, Dr. Howard Liss' training and expertise allows for him to provide an ergonomic assessment and recommend improvements that can benefit you and your back long-term. Below are a few tips relating to back pain while working from home.

Ideal Set-Up

Investing in a suitable chair that provides comfort, adequate lumbar spine support, and encourages proper posture is imperative. Since every back is unique, this perfect home-office chair varies from person-to-person. It is crucial to become acquainted with your own needs to find the right chair for you. For lumbar support, you may want to purchase a lumbar roll, which can be substituted with a rolled towel placed behind your lower back. There are also many health benefits to using a standing desk, including alleviating back pain and being the easiest option on the lumbar spine. Regardless of sitting or standing, your computer monitor or laptop screen should be positioned directly in front of you, at a height that doesn't require tilting or turning of the head up, down, or sideways. You may need to purchase a laptop stand to accomplish this.

Proper Posture

Proper posture includes your neck in line with your spine, back supported, legs uncrossed and flat on the ground or on a footrest, hips at a height slightly above the knees, and arms relaxed at a right angle on the desk. This position helps reduce muscle fatigue.

Exercises and Breathing

Exercise can strengthen the back and core muscles, which helps to take the pressure off of discs and joints.

  1. Scapular Retractions: Draw the shoulders back, squeeze the shoulder blades together, hold for a count of 5, then release and relax. Repeat 3 or 4 times.
  2. Wall Press: Stand facing a wall with arms placed flat on the wall at shoulder height. Tuck the chin in and relax the shoulders back and down. Bend your elbows in halfway, hold for 5 seconds, then push away from the wall. Remember to keep your back straight. Repeat 10 times.
  3. Arm-Across Chest Stretch: Raise one arm to shoulder level. With your other hand, grab your elbow and gently pull the arm across your chest, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor. You should feel a stretch in your upper arm and shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, then relax and repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Breathing Techniques: Breathing techniques can relax the body and muscles. Concentrate on your breathing. Inhale for a 4 count, bringing your navel towards your spine, then exhale for a 4 count. Repeat as needed.

Working from home can already have plenty of distractions - back pain shouldn't be one of them.

Call Howard Liss M.D. Rehabilitation Institute today to schedule an ergonomic assessment or to help relieve your existing pain.



Rehabilitation Institute

111 Dean Drive Suite 1
Tenafly, NJ, 07670
Fax: (201) 871-2214

Call Us: (201) 390-9200