The pandemic that has taken up residence around the world for the past two years has brought about numerous changes. One of them is the mass migration to working from home. Initially, many people weren’t sure how to navigate this change and there was a strong longing to return to normal. Now that we’ve learned how to manage this shift, more and more people are expressing a desire to make working from home their new normal. While there are several undeniable perks to working from home, the situation can also take a toll on the spine if we’re not careful. Here, we look at the ways in which working from home could be hurting the spine and what you can do to prevent or treat minor injuries.
It is easy to look at your work-from-home situation and view it as no different than working in an office all day. To some degree, this may be accurate. However, it is the small details that could pose big risks to the spine. Examples include:
- Poor posture. If your home office is also your dining room table, chances are you aren’t seated properly when you work. The ideal posture for desk work is to be seated with your head positioned directly above the shoulders. If you are either reclining back or hunched forward, your cervical and lumbar spinal segments are under excessive stress. This stress could lead to low back pain, neck or shoulder pain, and headaches more often than you’d like.
- Unsupportive seating. Usually, professional offices are equipped with appropriate seating accommodations than build ergonomic workspaces. When people switch to their “home office,” they may set up shop on a sofa or makeshift desk because these are the options that were available. Over time, we get used to this setup, not realizing that that armchair or dining room chair is not supporting the lower spine. If you are still working at home, we suggest that you invest in a proper, comfortable office chair and desk that supports your low back and arms properly.
- Limited movement. If you once worked in an office, you may have moved relatively frequently throughout the day. You may have gotten up to use a copy machine or send a fax. You may have left the building during your lunch break. Working from home, many people discover over time that they rarely need to get up from their desk. They don’t go farther than the kitchen for their lunch break and, too often, head right back to their computer to keep working. One of the benefits of working from home is that we can enjoy more freedom in our lives! We just have to make that extra effort. To correct this problem of being too sedentary, make it a point to walk before or after work or during a mid-day break. Also, for the happiest spine, engage in a few minutes of stretching at least once a day.
Dr. Todd Albert is a well-known spinal surgeon who has helped many patients regain optimal mobility and comfort. If you would like to schedule an in-person or virtual visit to discuss chronic back or neck pain, contact us at 212-606-1004.