Sitting at work desk with back pain

By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor

What began some months ago as “temporary” or “emergency” measures have now become semi-permanent, persistent, and long-term measures.  Many of us are still working from home, and there is little prospect of that changing in the immediate future.  While it might be convenient to work in your jammies, doing so, and working with makeshift work-station set-ups, presents some special challenges.  What I would like to suggest you do is create ergonomic circumstances that will allow you to sustain the current regimen for the long-haul.  Below you will find some tips to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

  • If possible, create an actual office setting with a proper desk and, equally as important, a supportive chair that allows you to maintain some semblance of decent posture while sitting.  Do not simply sit on the couch, in an easy chair, or at the kitchen island to do your work.
  • Your chair should provide adequate support for your low back and should help you maintain its curvature. Your legs should not be dangling; your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees and hips both at 90°. For some of you who are a little shorter, you will need to have a footrest so that the chair can be kept high enough to put you in the proper position relative to the desktop. A foot-rest could be something as simple as a cardboard box or a phone book.
  • Let your family know when you are working and when it is important for them to respect your space and your need for concentration. You are working for them and they need to also respect and work to help you discharge your work responsibilities.
  • If you are using a laptop, consider getting a remote keyboard and mouse. Doing so will allow you to raise the laptop screen up so that you are not having to look down all day long while you are working.
  • If you wear glasses, particularly bifocals, you may want to consider getting a pair or two of inexpensive mono-focal readers that you keep by your computer. Also consider, getting “blue blockers”. “Blue blockers”, as the name implies, are glasses that block the blue light from your computer that some find irritating.
  • If you have the ability to do so, get a standup desk that allows you to change posture throughout the day, alternating between standing and sitting.
  • Speaking of changing positions, set a timer that forces you to stand and stretch a little bit at a set frequency; it could be once every hour to two hours.
  • If you have kids at home and, like me, are easily distracted by extraneous noise, then consider getting noise-canceling headphones.

These are stressful times and there are no easy solutions, but every little thing that you do to reduce stress while working will allow you to stay healthier, more energized, and productive.


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