Working from home has become a common situation for office workers since the coronavirus pandemic began. Most workplaces closed down in March 2020, and although the world has made huge progress in combating the virus, many office workers have decided to remain working from home throughout 2021.
There are ups and downs to any work situation, and working from home is no different. We can all list the pros and cons of any working life we have had in the past – but one of the key pros of working from home is that you have more control over your environment. This means you can tailor your work environment to suit your needs, both mental and physical.
One aspect of your health that is often ignored during working hours is your back. Your back is a complex structure of muscles and bones that needs to be taken care of very carefully. We can ignore our backs when we sit in a chair most of the day, ultimately causing pain, posture problems and poor core strength – all of which might require intensive pain treatment down the line. Luckily, when you work from home, you can take extra steps to take care of your back that might not be available in the office!
In this post, we’ll explore 10 practical ways to support your back when you work from home, so you can take better care of this integral part of your body more effectively!
1. Invest In An Ergonomic Chair
One of the easiest solutions to a painful back and bad posture is an ergonomic office chair. Ergonomic office chairs are designed with the human spine in mind; they are shaped to support your lower back (lumbar spine); mid back (thoracic) and your neck. Ergonomic office chairs aren’t the most beautiful pieces of furniture you’ll ever own – some even look like something out of a spaceship – but the positive effects they have on your spinal health knows no bounds.
Ergonomic office chairs help maintain an upright posture and discourage hunching over your computer, as is the issue for many from-home office workers. In addition, they aid balance and assist in building your core strength too!
2. Work Standing Up For Some Portion Of The Day
Humans aren’t designed to sit down for eight hours per day, but most office workers do just that. Our spines are no friend of desk-sitting for hours on end, and so to offset the effects of your office job on your body, you should try working standing up for a portion of the day.
If you don’t fancy working at your kitchen counter, you can invest in an ergonomic standing desk that balances your laptop device perfectly for your height. These adjustable ergonomic desks mean you’re never hunching over or looking up, postures which can both damage your back in the long run.
3. Store A Yoga Cushion Underneath Your Desk
Yoga cushions are grain-filled cushions that aid in spinal decompression. When you sit or stand too long in one position, the vertebrae in your spine can become compressed, meaning the space between vertebrae decreases. This can cause aches and pains, as well as poor posture, particularly if this compression is not addressed.
When you work from home, you can take small breaks to lie in any position you want on the floor! This luxury isn’t exactly possible in a professional office environment, so use this opportunity to give your back that extra bit of love it needs.
A yoga cushion can be placed on the floor, and the user can lie upon it either vertically or horizontally, breathing deeply as they do so. The firm-yet-soft density of the yoga cushion will release tension in your back and help create space between the vertebrae.
4. Incorporate Core Exercises Into Your Routine
Your core, meaning your back, side and stomach muscles, is essential to the health of your spine. Muscles “prop up” our skeleton, giving it the support it needs while we go about our lives. The stronger your muscles are, the better they can support your skeletal structure.
Core exercises can strengthen the muscles that directly support your spine, and are easily doable in just five or ten minutes. We all know that most jobs can be highly time consuming, so fast, easy core exercises will be your friend.
Some easy-to-do core exercises for working from home, which will help to support your back include:
- Crunches & sit ups.
- Russian twists.
- Downward facing dog.
- Deadlifts with free weights.
- Pull-ups (if you install a pull-up bar in your home).
Try incorporating a few of these exercises per day into your work routine, and you’ll be amazed at how your core strength improves over time!
5. A Hot Water Bottle Goes A Long Way
For those who have experienced backache, either chronically or due to an injury, you will know that heat is your friend. If you suffer with backache on a regular basis, putting a little effort into your working routine will make a big difference.
One highly cost-effective balm for backache is a hot water bottle. Hot water bottles produce a constant source of heat which, when applied to the lower back, for example, can provide relief to sore or stiff muscles.
How does heat help back pain? Applying heat improves your circulation, thereby sending oxygen and other nutrients to that area. It does this by dilating your blood vessels, allowing blood to travel more freely to the affected area.
6. Sit On An Exercise Ball
Exercise balls are typically used to strengthen a person’s pelvic floor, but whether you’re a man or a woman, exercise balls are amazing for your back. That’s because sitting on an exercise ball rather than a chair requires you to balance yourself. You can’t be caught slouching or sitting in an uncomfortable position for long periods of time – the ball forces your body to be upright and centred at all times.
If you find yourself hunching over your laptop or crossing your legs all day, your exercise ball will make you more disciplined when it comes to your posture. Plus, sitting on an exercise ball will engage your abdominal muscles, pelvis and leg/glute muscles to control how you sit – ultimately making you fitter and healthier while you work!
7. Lunchtime Yoga Is Your Friend
One of the great things about working from home is that you have a little more time on your hands. When you don’t have to commute to work (unless you count the stairs!) you have an hour, or maybe even more, to play with that you didn’t have before.
Use this time wisely by taking control of your body’s health. YouTube yoga practices can range between five and forty five minutes, and all of them will improve your flexibility, strength and circulation. Plus, shaking off work worries with a quick stretch at lunchtime will help soothe your mind and decrease the cortisol levels in your body. Your back is a vessel for tension when you’re stressed; by reducing stress, you can relieve tightness in your back, too.
8. Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothing When Sitting At Your Desk
Your clothing affects your posture, and good posture is crucial for a healthy back. Of course, if you have video meetings or clients visiting your home, you will need to dress well for the occasion. Most of the time, though, you can get away with wearing loose clothing when you work from home!
Wearing loose, comfortable clothing helps you to sit upright and breathe deeply into your stomach, rather than adjusting your posture to work around tight or ill fitting clothes. Breathing into your diaphragm and sitting up properly will support your back and alleviate back pain over time.
9. Eat Energising Foods That Support Your Wellness Journey
It’s easy to eat junk food when you’re out and about, but when you work from home, you have the framework to be more healthy. Try eating energising foods such as fresh pasta, vegetables, fruits and spices to ensure you are not slumping at your desk – especially in the afternoons when you feel like falling asleep a lot of the time!
10. Book A Home Masseuse Visit
Remember what we said about having more free time? Use it to treat yourself! We’ve all been through a tough time in the pandemic, so booking a home masseuse visit can really help you alleviate stress. Plus, it’s amazing for your back. Practices such as Thai massage, cupping, acupuncture and osteopathy are all proven to help stimulate blood flow and correct poor posture and compression in the spine. By making this investment a few times per year, you can save yourself much anguish in the future and really help to support your back.
Taking care of your back is easier when you work from home – simply because the amount of time and flexibility you have is far greater than in an office environment. Working from home can still be intense, of course, but the upshot is that you can create a framework to take care of your health, both mental and physical. Use this guide to help support your back if you work from home!