In light of the current COVID-19 restrictions across the country many Australians are now working from home. Albeit working from home has its own perks, it also comes with its own disadvantages. This change of routine often comes with prolonged working hours and undesirable work set-ups leading to the onset of aches and pains most commonly in the neck and back.
Tips for avoiding neck and back pain
- Make sure your desk set-up mimics yours at work and is ergonomically correct.
- Take regular breaks. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can overload the muscles in your neck and back causing pain. Setting an alarm on your phone or computer can help remind you to get up and move your body.
- Regular stretches throughout your working hours can help break up your long working days and prevent build up of tightness in your muscles from prolonged sitting.
- Daily exercise. Try to find 30-45 minutes per day doing any exercise you enjoy. This will help maintain your cardiovascular fitness and help strengthen your muscles and joints.
- Lumbar extension: Stand and lean your shoulders back, gently stretching your upper body backwards to reverse the flexed sitting posture.
- Head rotations: Turn your head slowly to one side as far as comfortable then turn to the other side.
- Shoulder circles: Slowly move your shoulders in a circular motion; upward, forward, downward and backward. Reverse the direction for backwards circles.
- Lateral flexion: Interlace your fingers and with palms facing upwards above your head, press hands upward, stretching your arms. Gently stretch to one side, hold then return to centre and complete on the opposite side.
- Shoulder stretch: Extend one arm at shoulder level across your chest. Place your opposite hand on your elbow and gently apply pressure stretching your arm across your chest. Repeat, alternating sides.
- Calf stretch: In a standing position place your hands on the wall for support and move one foot back about two feet. Shift your weight forward over the foot in front bending the forward knee. Hold then slowly return to standing position. Repeat and alternate legs.
- Quad stretch: In a standing position place hands on a wall or object for support and bend one knee bringing your foot up toward the back of your thigh. Grasp your foot and gently stretch your knee, moving your foot towards the back of your thigh. Repeat and alternate legs.
- Position the top of your screen at your eye level and directly in front of you.
- Have an adjustable chair so you can change the height and angle of the back support. Your chair should be close to the desk so you do not have to reach for the keyboard or mouse.
- Desk height should allow sitting with shoulders and arms relaxed with elbows at a 90 degree angle and wrists in a neutral position.
- Sit with hips and knees at close to 90 degree angles.
- Feet should be flat on the floor or use a foot stool to achieve a comfortable position.
- If working from documents for prolonged periods, these should be placed on a document holder positioned either between the keyboard and monitor or at the same eye level as the screen and close to the monitor.
- When using the computer mouse, keep the mouse close to the keyboard. Use keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse, minimise the amount of time you spend using the scroll button and alternate which hand uses the mouse.
- If you use your phone a lot, never cradle the phone i.e. put it in between your neck and your shoulder.
- Place the keyboard flat on the table – wrists should be in a neutral position.
If you are experiencing pain or symptoms that may be related to your posture and work set-up at home, book an appointment to speak to or see one of our physiotherapists today.