Tip #1 - Don't get too comfortable!
One of the best parts of working from home is being comfortable! You don't have to go through the process of commuting, your office chair is to your personal satisfaction, and you can even lounge on the couch when typing up that report.
However, one of the major sources of back aches and lower back pain comes from overindulging in lounging. Humans bodies are not designed to sit around for long stretches of time without moving and often lounging in 'comfortable' places can exacerbate the problem further. On top of not offering proper support over long periods, your couch or favorite recliner may give the illusion of comfort so much so that you spend extra time there!
Tip #2 - Set-up your work space appropriately!
Expanding on tip #1, tip #2 is all about getting the right environment for working setup. There are lots of considerations to make when setting up a home office, from ergonomics to noise levels. In this article we are focusing on reducing lower back pain, so we will discuss the ergonomic aspect.
First, make sure your desk and chair are positioned at the proper height for you! If you don't know what height is best, simply use some trial and error. When sitting in your chair, your feet should be able to rest flat on the ground. In addition, your shoulders should be in a neutral position when you lay your forearms on your desktop.
Everyone's home office furniture works differently. and it is imperative that you try out some different positions to see what works best for you.
Tip #3 - Check your shoulders and wrists! (and overall posture)
One of the major contributors to back pain is poor posture. If you are interested in maintaining your posture, check out our previous blog post about building good habits surrounding your general posture.
Tip #3 focuses on an often overlooked part of our posture - our shoulder and wrist position. Having your shoulders shrugged up, slouched down, arched forward, or pulled back can exacerbate strain put on your back muscles - particularly on your lower back. To practice good shoulder posture, imagine trying to lift your sternum (center of your ribs) as high up vertically as you can, without moving it horizontally.
Once you get a feel for how to properly position your shoulders, you will soon notice a relief in soreness in your back - as well as an overall shift in how people perceive your body language. Proper posture in the shoulders appears confident and composed - you'll look as good as you'll feel.
Tip #4 - Get up and move around!
Humans are not meant to be sedentary creatures - sitting down, at home or in the office, for eight plus hours a day is not good for our bodies. Every hour or so, we recommend you get up and walk around a bit - if you're working from home, walk around your house to every room, up and down stairs if you have them, and take this time to gather your thoughts about whatever task(s) you have to do.
Not only will getting up and moving provide you with a little break from sitting down in the same place, it can also give you an opportunity to 'change your scenery' a little bit and potentially inspire new ideas or solutions to help you get your work does efficiently, effectively, and without lower back pain.
Tip #5 - Do some stretches!
Our last tip can be done with tip #4, or, on its own at any time. The benefits of stretching are well proven and well worth pursuing. When you work from home, often you are living a very sedentary life during office hours. To combat the rigidity that comes with a sedentary lifestyle, stretching diligently, at least once in the morning and once after work, will help you stay limber and pain free.
It is not essential in any way that you stretch aggressively or that you stretch with the goal of building any significant flexibility - you are working from home, not training to be a gymnast. However, light, basic stretches that focus on your legs, back, and shoulders should be plenty to keep you limber and flexible despite being sedentary.