Mr Fady Sedra, Consultant Orthopaedic and Spinal Surgeon at Cromwell Hospital, shares tips to avoid backache when working from home.
With the pandemic spreading fast, most businesses called for hybrid working. Naturally very few employees had a healthy setup at home and the overwhelming majority took their laptop home and retired to their couches. As a result, I regularly see patients in my clinic with backache or discomfort due to inadequate desk/chair setup and unhealthy lifestyle.
Implementing some modifications to the work environment at home and to the work routine usually suffices to resolve back pain:
- Posture is the key to keeping back pain at bay; A suitable chair which supports the lower part of the back is essential. If not available, you can do that with a small cushion that will fill the gap between the chair and the lower part of your back which is arched forward
- Arm rests to support the elbows would be advised as well.
- Height–wise, your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees sitting slightly higher than your hips. One can use a desk or a table to work on. The eye level should be at the level of the upper part of the computer screen. Thick books can be put below the screen to bring it up.
Investing in a separate keyboard and mouse to connect to the laptop would work better to achieve the above aims. If back pain becomes challenging, we can think of a standing desk to reduce the pressure on the back with prolonged sitting.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is equally important. Eating healthy food and getting enough calcium and Vitamin D is essential. Limiting sitting time to 40 minutes or less will reduce the pressure on your back. Short breaks will prove useful to do a few stretches. Practicing yoga or Pilates will restore core muscle strength and improve your overall physical and mental health.
If pain is persistent, it is preferable to check your doctor in case you need a referral to a specialist for further assessment and/or investigation.