Expert Tips for Safely Working From Home and Preventing Back Pain

Expert Tips for Safely Working From Home and Preventing Back Pain

As I write this, it is March 22, 2020 and we are one week into the clinic closure, social distancing, and chaos in the community all related to the Covid-19 pandemic.   Some people work from home because they can, and others are now forced to work from home.   If you are now avoiding a long commute into the office, this might be a great relief to not have to sit in a car or on the train for an hour each way to get to work (which can be helpful if you do have back pain).   Regardless of why you are working from home, here are 7 of the BEST TIPS to consider when setting up your work space if you are fearful of getting back pain.

  1. Use a Low Back Support

Having a small cushion or a rolled up towel between your back and the chair in the small of your back can do a couple of things.   First it will provide support to the normal curve in your lower back, we call this Lordosis.   Second it may help you sit up straighter. Using a chair with a full back on it will make this easier.

  1. Set up your desk correctly

You may not have a formal office set-up, or might be using the kitchen table or the sofa! Whatever you do, consider these basic ergonomic principles when choosing where to work from:

  • Your computer screen should be about one arm length away
  • The top of the screen should be around eye level
  • Use a good supportive and comfortable chair.   Your feet should rest flat on the floor and your knees should be bent 90 degrees.
  • Forearms should rest comfortably on the desk surface and your shoulders should be relaxed.   If the surface is too high, you may be shrugging your shoulders
  1. Move once per hour

It’s important to get up and move. Sitting too long can lead to muscles and joints getting stiff and tight. Set a timer on your phone to go off every 60 mins and stand up, walk around, stretch, grab a drink of water, then get back to work!  

  1. Stretch!

You can learn some stretches that can be done right at your desk for your shoulders, neck, back, knees and hips. Stretching through the day is a good reason to take a break and allow you to get up and move.   A few minutes of stretching 3 or 4 times throughout the day will go a long way towards preventing back and neck pain from creeping in.   To learn more about how to do these stretches at YOUR desk, we can show you through a VIRTUAL PHYSIO session.   Ask us how to set that up by emailing altimaphysio@gmail.com

  1. Don’t Slouch on the Couch

If you are new to working from home, lounging on the couch in your pyjamas might sound appealing while you are making progress at work.   However, you should avoid using your laptop on the couch for an extended period of time.   I know it’s called a “Lap” top, but in the interests of preventing neck and back pain, slouch on the couch with caution.

  1. Find a Quiet Place to Work

Try to find a quiet area away from others to set up in.   You will get more done in a place with less distractions and less noise. If you can find a place that will allow you to concentrate better, you will get more done in a shorter amount of time, feel less stressed and hopefully be able to stop working sooner!

  1. Time for a New Routine

Let’s face it- if you are forced to work from home, your old routine is gone for now.   It’s time to establish a new routine. You may now have to consider working around your spouse, kids, pets, and the hum of household chores in the background.   This can be hard to get used to. Establish “rules” and stick to them. Try to start your work and end your work at the same time each day.   You might build family play time into the middle of your day- you can do that!   Try to keep it consistent and soon your new routine will be rolling along smoothly.


Our Physiotherapists are now equipped to work directly with you, remotely, one on one, through Virtual Physio videoconferencing sessions.   We can help with all the usual aches and pains right in the comfort of your home / home office.   If you have questions or would like more info, email us at altimaphysio@gmail.com