Are you still WFH? Use these tips to keep back pain in check

If work from home is taking a toll on your spine health, here's how to prevent back pain!

how to prevent back pain
Keep back pain at bay with these tips. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Manish Kothari Updated on: 9 August 2022, 21:02 pm IST
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A lot of people are out of their homes and back to working from office in the post-pandemic world. Yet, a chunk of offices are still following the work from home (WFH) or hybrid working formats. The ill effects of working from home have been pronounced, with back, neck and eye problems. It may be convenient, but not adhering to the right tips can take a toll on your spine health. Know how to prevent back pain!

Here are the side effects work from home can have on your spine

1. Improper work desk

Many homes do not have the proper work desk arrangement. Human spine is not able to sustain prolonged sitting posture. It will start to ache in a short time for most people. Ergonomic chairs are not available with everyone and we commonly end up using either the dining table chair or the ordinary plastic reclining chairs with pillows stoved in for cushion and support. The common work desk used is a makeshift study table or the dining table. What’s worse is sitting in odd positions on the sofa or a recliner. The absolute worst position is sitting on the floor without support. These positions for prolonged periods of time can cause early permanent damage to the spine.

how to prevent back pain
Do not forget to stretch while sitting for long hours! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Laptop convenience and poor posture

Laptops are incredibly handy and versatile but the posture it invariably leads to is of ‘forward stoop’. This posture increases the pressure on the vertebral discs by more than two-fold after a prolonged period of time. It also leads to early muscle fatigue and core muscle laziness, both causing back pain. Laptop use invariably causes the head to lean forward away from the body. This causes what is called the ‘tech neck’ syndrome, wherein the disc strain rises exponentially with increasing neck flexion. This condition is worse in people who use the double whammy of laptop and mobile for their work.

Also, read: How to relieve back pain? Keep these 10 things in mind

3. The loss of travel to office

To travel is to move; sitting, standing and walking. Movement is good for the body as it increases circulation and improves tissue nutrition. In Work From Home, many people can fall prey to a sedentary lifestyle causing deterioration in muscle and bone health. WFH also leads to a blurred line between work hours and non-work hours which again leads to overall loss of exercise and movement

4. Lack of exposure to sunlight

Exposure to sunlight is a very important factor, often ignored or impossible in the urban lifestyle in the working population. Vitamin D, which is paramount for bone health and many other body functions, is formed only when exposed to UV B rays of sun which is maximum in the afternoon sun.

how to prevent back pain
Sunlight is very essential. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

How to keep spine health in check during work from home

Identifying the problem is the job half done. WFH is here to stay. Keep yourself healthy and pain-free by using these easy tips:

1. Invest in a good ergonomic chair and work desk.

2. Adjustable standing desks are very helpful as they allow sitting and standing position. Any posture maintained continuously can cause pain. So movement is the key

3. Use a desktop with a large enough monitor whenever possible. Use laptop stands that allow the height to be raised to eye level.

4. Make use of wireless keyboards and mouse so that one does not have to stoop forward over a laptop

5. Movement is life. Keep moving frequently.

6. Do stretches for the neck and back. Regular exercise keeps the muscles toned

7. Take exposure to midday sunlight over bare skin for 10 to 15 minutes.

8. Learn breathing exercises to help you stay calm during stressful days.

9. Last but not the least, be aware and mindful of your posture. Keep a small reminder on your desk. It helps!

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About the Author
Dr Manish Kothari Dr Manish Kothari

Dr Manish Kothari, Consultant Orthopedic (Spine Specialist), Jaslok Hospital

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