Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to reduce the spread of infection there were drastic changes to how we work. This has now continued to become the new “norm”, with many of us now working from home rather than in busy offices. In cases where homes were less equipped or optimised for an effective work environment, this has correlated with increases in the severity of lower back pain.
Ways to prevent lower back pain whilst working at home
There is often a lot of emphasis on our posture and how it affects issues with our lower back. This has painted a picture that there is an ideal posture and position that prevent or reduce the risk of pain.
Unfortunately, it seems one size does not fit all and an “ideal” posture is less likely to get rid of our back pain. In fact, looking down at our computer screen with a rounded/slouched posture (which is often labelled as a poor posture) is no more likely to cause back pain than sat bolt upright, with a computer level with your eyes.
All kinds of different postures are required throughout the day during different tasks, such as reaching in cupboards or picking up objects (small or large). Therefore, static postures may cause more of a problem and it is a much better idea to expose our body to plenty of different postures during our working day.
If you are unsure what kind of posture you may be adopting during your working day or are struggling to find strategies to keep your posture moving, reach out to your Physiotherapist for free advice.
This directly follows on from the ideas discussed about posture. Offices and places of work are normally equipped with adjustable chairs, monitors, remote keyboards and even adjustable tables in some cases. Following the rapid changes as a result of lockdown, many of us were forced to work from our kitchen table and sofas, meaning less flexibility or adjustability to the work station.
As stated earlier, it is recommended to change our posture regularly and this becomes a lot easier when we are sat in a chair that swivels, rocks, rolls and changes height compared to a kitchen chair with 4 legs for example or a sofa where it is easy to get “comfy”.
Therefore, if we are now working from home, we should try investing in more appropriate equipment that may facilitate changes in position or posture. Your workplace should be provided the equipment you need to work from home, so speak to them if you need any adjusments/upgrades.
Interestingly, there also appears to be a link with temperature and back pain. With the current rise in the cost of energy bills, it is understandable that keeping the heating on all day during the winter whilst working from home may not be possible.
Developing cost effective strategies to keep warm may have a significant impact on pain levels. While it sounds like stating the obvious, simply wearing plenty of layers and using hot water bottles can help maintain heat around the lower back area and prevent the muscles from stiffening up and moving at regular intervals.
One of the most important preventative measures for the onset of lower back pain is regularly engaging in exercise.
Developing a more resilient, strong and flexible version of ourselves decreases the chances of pain, along with the added benefits of supporting our mental health and general well-being.
Don’t just think we need to sign up to a gym. This can be anything that we enjoy, from walking the dog, engaging in a new team sport, going to the gym, home exercises or even going to dance classes. So long as we get our heart rate up and our body moving.
In contrast, there can be very specific exercises to build up strength in and around our lower back. If you require specific guidance on which types of exercise might be right for you, then seek guidance from your Physiotherapist who will also provide suggestions on the intensity and duration of the exercise you carry out.
Deep tissue massage and spinal mobilisations
These hands-on techniques can be delivered by a Physiotherapist to treat pain, tension, tightness and restore range of motion. This may involve working on soft tissues, such as muscles or targeting joints in the spine.
This is a highly specific and individual approach and would require an appointment with a Physiotherapist. Alternatively, Theraflex therapy at Physiofusion can be used to deliver spinal mobilisations at higher volumes than the hands can produce. To learn more about this pioneering NEW service, click here.
If you are unsure about your lower back pain, you can speak to our Physiotherapists for FREE using our online service, here.