Looking after your back in lockdown and beyond
With many of us still working from home, possibly since the start of the first lockdown in March, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise your risk of developing back pain and neck pain.
Here’s a quick guide to make home working easier, healthier and hopefully pain-free from Martin Docherty, Clinical Governance & Digital Health Consultant at Aviva UK Health & Protection.
In lockdown Britain, working from home was a relatively new experience for many office workers. And because the initial lockdown was an unexpected experience, millions didn't have the luxury of reorganising their home workspaces to accommodate laptops, screens, cables and other technological necessities in advance. This sudden change in working environments potentially increased the risk of people developing postural aches and pains which can be easily avoided by adopting some simple measures. And even if you have managed to improve your homeworking environment over time, these measures may still be a useful reminder on how to maintain a healthy posture while working through this pandemic.
If you’ll be working in a seated position for most of the day, the information that follows covers the best way of doing that and some practical tips for staying symptom free. The main thing to remember is to get up and move around regularly during the day – our bodies are designed for movement so don’t spend all day sitting down staring at your screen!
Find the seat of power in your home
We’re all different - some of us may be perfectly comfortable working from a sofa while others may need additional support. It all depends on your individual circumstances. The most important thing is to vary your working postures throughout the day according to how you feel.
If possible, set your new ‘office’ up in a specific room that you associate with work. This means that you can ‘close the door’ at the end of the day, helping you switch off. Where possible, you should use a screen, keyboard and a mouse with a laptop as this will help encourage better posture. If you don’t have access to a separate monitor, then a laptop stand will ensure you can continue to work with your laptop screen at the correct height. If you’re making calls regularly, try to use a headset to avoid neck awkward postures.
Your connection with the outside world begins with what you can see outside so try to find a place in your home where you don’t have to work facing a blank wall.
Your view might be a back garden, it could be rooftops, it might be a not-so-busy street, but it’s your physical window on the world and an opportunity to have a visual stimulus that breaks up the routine of staring at work materials.
The bigger picture on homeworking health
Of course, there’s more to homeworking health than your workstation. It’s essential to stay hydrated and to take regular breaks from your work – ideally every 20 minutes or so.
You could use this time to stretch or simply get away from the screen by taking a stroll outside in your garden if you’re fortunate enough to have one or alternatively in your local neighbourhood – all while adhering to the latest Government guidelines. Back pain and postural discomfort generally respond well to gentle exercise and activity, so every step you take is great for your physical and mental health during lockdown.
If you do experience any issues always seek advice from a qualified health professional. You can also find more information online from ACPOHE.
The information in this article is created and published for general informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be treated or relied upon as such. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.