My Back is Killing Me, How Do I Make it Stop? (Working from Home with Less Pain)

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many of us are now working from home, at least a portion of the time.

While working from home brings its own unique set of challenges, including unlimited distractions (last night’s episode of the Bachelor is waiting for you just steps away), the fridge at home is always open, and the kids seem to always need something. The bright side is you can work from bed! Or the couch, the chaise lounge, the kitchen table, the patio furniture…the options are limitless.

Unfortunately, just because you can work from any comfortable, soft spot does not mean you should. By working from bed or the couch, you wreak havoc on your neck and back, even if you don’t feel any pain (yet).

Working from Bed Makes My Back and Neck Hurt

WFB, or work from bed, is a dream come true for many of us eternal sleepy heads and comfort queens. But did you know that working from bed offers you virtually no support for your neck and back? Think about the position you are in while you work from bed: slouched down, hunched over, twisted, and causing immense strain to your neck and upper back. When you work from bed, you curve your back into a large C formation, from your neck to your lower back. This position puts the neck and lower back under constant strain. What’s more, the muscles at the front of your neck shorten, which pulls your neck forward— contributing to bad neck posture.

If you must work from bed because you have no other quiet space to work, here’s how to do so without causing so much damage:

  • Rest your laptop on a pillow. This will bring it up a bit higher, and you won’t have to lean down as much to reach it.
  • Place a rolled-up towel underneath yourself so that your lower back doesn’t slouch.
  • Bend your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Put your laptop on your thighs with the screen angled to a level that’s comfortable for you.

Working from the Dining Room or Kitchen Table, My Back and Neck Hurt

You may think that the dining room table is a good place to work because you have an actual chair and a surface to rest your laptop on, similar to a desk. But, the dining room table is missing some essential elements when it comes to supporting your body, including lumbar support. Without the lumbar support that an office chair offers, you’re likely to find yourself slouching a lot more, which can cause pain in your back. Since dining room chairs are typically higher than office chairs, you are likely to find yourself raising your shoulders in order for your hands to reach the keyboard. This contributes to neck and shoulder pain and can even cause tension headaches.

To make working at the dining room/kitchen table less of a pain in the neck, try the following:

  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor to create a stable base. This will prevent your spine from collapsing as you sit.
  • Sit on some cushions if you need to until your shoulders are relaxed and your elbows are able to be at 90 degrees.
  • You can also place a pillow or rolled-up towel behind your lower back to make up for the lack of lumbar support and stop you from slumping your back.

Working from the Couch, My Back and Neck Hurt

Trust us, we’ve been there, working from the dining room table or even the home-office when all of the sudden, the couch starts screaming our name. It looks so comfortable, so inviting. Surely we will be a lot more productive sitting in the lap of luxury and comfort, right? Wrong.

The couch can actually put pressure on the upper back, lower spine, and shoulder blades. The deeper your sofa is, the harder it becomes for your spine to stay supported. Zero spine support on the couch= lower backaches. Also, how do you sit on the couch? Likely with your legs tucked under you and with your spine twisted. Ouch.

If you just can’t resist the lure of the comfy couch, try these options to give your spine some relief:

  • Sit on the edge of the couch with your feet on the floor.
  • Use pillows behind your back for support.
  • Place some pillows on your knees to raise the height of your laptop to take some strain off of your neck. It may be better, though, to sit on the floor against your sofa…

Working at the Coffee Table, My Back and Neck Hurt

If you choose to sit on the floor and work from the coffee table, try to:

  • Keep your hips, elbows, and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep your back in a neutral position.
  • Your shoulders should stay away from your ears.
  • Sit on a cushion and vary your position every half hour or so: sitting with your legs crossed, sitting in a squat, straddling the pillow. These positions will help keep your pelvis, hips, and spine more free and mobile, preventing back pain.
  • Your hips may start to feel tight. If this happens, put a couple of cushions underneath each one of your thighs, so they have something to rest on.

Working from my Desk, My Neck Keeps Hurting

You may find yourself saying, “But, doc! I’m working from an actual desk, and an office chair, and I’m still in pain!” Unfortunately, there will still be some strain and pain, even if you are working from your home office or your office at work. Here’s how to eliminate those aches:

  • View your computer screen with a straight neck. Make sure your screen is directly in front of you at a comfortable height for viewing. Don’t look down at your screen, and don’t place it at an angle that requires you to twist your neck.
  • Sit back in your chair. Don’t hunch forward in your chair. When you do that, you are putting a lot of pressure on your intervertebral lumbar discs. Sit back in your chair so that the chair’s back supports some of your body weight and sits close enough to reach the keyboard and mouse comfortably.
  • If your chair does not offer good lower-back support, place a cushion or rolled-up towel behind your lower back.
  • When sitting, make sure your feet are always resting flat on the floor.
  • Pay a visit to your chiropractor to work out any kinks you are experiencing. Don’t hesitate to tell them about your situation and ask for advice.

If working from home is killing your back, or you are experiencing any other kinks or pains, please reach out to us today. Our team of experienced St. Peters chiropractors uses a unique blend of the best chiropractic, acupuncture, laser, massage, wellness, and nutrition-related services to offer various solutions to enhance your health. We can also offer specific
suggestions for your work at home space and provide specific stretches or
core strengthen exercises to enable you to do your best and feel your best while working. This can be done through a Telehealth call or an in person visit!

Our goal is to help you achieve your wellness needs, improve your quality of life, and facilitate healing through our services.

If you are ready to handle the last part of 2020 more comfortably… give us
a call at (636)928-5588 or schedule an appointment today!