More schools are switching to online classes, and the many businesses that can opt to have their employees work from home do so in the new normal. It might be a treat for some, having to skip the long commute, dress codes, and uniforms. But for those who’ve been at it for months, back pain may have become a more frequent condition, working or studying for hours without the luxury of our office and school chairs.
If you’re experiencing severe back pain to the point you can’t focus on your work or studies, it’s best to seek chiropractic treatment or an opinion from a medical practitioner that can provide pain relief. But if it’s just a minor recurring pain, here are some remedies you can do at home that can help you relieve back pain.
Invest in a Workstation
For those of us who were unprepared when the pandemic began, and schools and most offices shifted to a remote model, you might have thought that your home’s dining table, your living room couch, or even your bed might have been a good place to work. Unfortunately, not having a proper desk and an ergonomic chair like you did in school or at work may take a toll on your back. Some dining room sets are not meant to be sat on for long periods of time. And when you’re sitting up on your bed, you’re probably slouching or bending low, which can lead you to have back and leg pain.
As much as possible, invest in a designated work station where you can comfortably work and study. For employees, ask your employer if they would be willing to ship over your desk and chair. If that’s not available, buy a desk with enough room for your laptop or desktop. Place it in a well-lit area in your home to avoid eye strain.
Stand Up More Often
The human body was not biologically designed to stay seated for so long. This means that the back pain you’re feeling is actually your body’s aching due to being in an unnatural position for prolonged periods of time.
If you have an eight-hour shift at work or classes from the day until the afternoon, avoid only getting up during your lunch break or when you have to use the bathroom. Ideally, for every hour you’re sitting down, you should stand for at least 15 minutes (or 30 minutes) if you want to get the full benefits of standing.
This isn’t an excuse to take a 15-minute break every hour, though. Use that time to do other tasks like checking your emails, taking calls, or updating your planner. You could also invest in an adjustable standing desk so that you can continue your regular tasks while standing.
Be Aware of Your Posture
If you start to feel that aching in your back and shoulders, try to see what your posture looks like. Poor posture while you work or study is a common cause of back pain. This is when your back isn’t straight, your shoulders are hunched, and your arms and wrists are bent unnaturally and awkward, stressing out more muscles than necessary.
Try to be more conscious about your posture when you work. You should keep your back straight and pull your shoulders back, keeping your chest proud. Ideally, your computer screen should be at a height that you’re not looking down on it and causing additional strain on your neck and upper back. Keep your wrists from angling at an awkward angle and keep them rested on a flat surface to avoid arm pain.
Keep Your Neck Straight
If what you’re experiencing is neck and/or upper back pain, one reason may be because your computer screen is not at a proper eye level. While this can be remedied with a couple of books or a box for your desktop monitor to stand on, this is a common problem with laptops because the screen, keyboard, and touchpad are connected to the same device.
As a solution, get a separate keyboard and mouse you can use when you work (ideally wireless ones to help you organize your desk). Place your laptop at a height where you can see the screen clearly without having to bend your neck downwards. Use a sturdy box or a few hard-bound books to keep it from shaking or wobbling. Install your keyboard and mouse and place it at a comfortable angle in front of the box so you can work better without causing neck strain.
Working and remote learning may be new to many, but it’s necessary to adapt if you want to adjust to the new normal. If you experience back pain when you work, these are just some of the ways you can relieve back pain and improve your working or studying practices to help you adapt to your current work or study setting.