Working from home [WFH], a move welcomed by many in the initial days of the pandemic for its numerous benefits may have started to lose its charm. 

Apart from the lack of social interaction and distractions, WFH is giving rise to a persistent problem of growing proportions - back pain. 

The long hours spent working on a laptop, computer, tablet, or mobile phone in unergonomic settings, the lack of regular exercise due to restrictions on the functioning of gyms, parks, and other public places, and the stress due to these uncertain times has created the perfect recipe for back pain.

Let’s look at some tips that can help you avoid back pain.

Tips For Back Pain

  • Ergonomics: Avoid using the laptop for long in an improper posture on a sofa or bed. It can impact your spine and leave a long-lasting effect. Use an ergonomic chair and table for working on a laptop or computer. While there is no definitive white paper on the benefits of using an ergonomically designed chair, some researchers suggest that their use may help in core-strengthening exercises that may alleviate back pain. 

  • Posture: While working, the screen of your laptop, computer, or tablet should be at your eye level and at a stretched arm’s distance. Your table and elbow should be at the same level, with the latter being at 90 degrees and resting on a support. Further, your shoulder should be in a neutral and relaxed position and your spine should be erect. Also, try to keep your hip and knees bent at 90 degrees to decrease joint and muscle strain. 

  • Activity: Develop a regular workout routine and aim for some physical activity every day. Avoid sitting in one position for too long. Take a break of 60 seconds for every 30 minutes of working. For example, you can keep your water bottle away from your working area and take a break to drink water at the end of every 30 minutes.

  • Relaxation: Back pain can also be linked to stress and tension. Indulge in mindful practices such as Yoga or meditation to boost your mood and relax. Opt for massages and acupuncture to loosen your muscles. 

  • Professional Help: Do not ignore persistent back pain. If you have tried all the tips and are still experiencing back pain that does not go away for weeks, a doctor needs to examine your condition and advise you. 

Now, let’s have a look at some exercises that may help with back pain. 

Exercises For Back Pain

1. Ear to Shoulder Stretch: This stretching exercise is meant to ease and loosen the trapezius muscle. It is a muscle in your upper back that facilitates shoulder and neck movement.

To do this stretch:

  • Sit straight on a chair or on the ground. 

  • Bend your head slowly to the left side as though you are trying to touch your ear to the shoulder.

  • Place your left hand on your head and gently pull it down toward your shoulder.

  • Hold this position for 20 seconds and release.

  • Perform the same stretch on the right side.

2. Foam Roller Posture Exercise: A foam roller is a lightweight foam cylinder that can be used to massage your tissues. Foam rolling releases muscle knots increases flexibility and boosts circulation. A foam roller can help relieve tension in your upper back and alleviate poor posture.

To massage your upper back using a foam roller:

  • Lie on your back and place a foam roller under your spine vertically to support your head and tailbone.

  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.

  • Spread your arms to the sides with your palms facing upward.

  • Take a deep breath and relax in this position for up to 1 minute.

  • Repeat the process 3 times and do this exercise 3 to 4 times per week.

3. McKenzie Prone Press-Ups: The McKenzie method, also called mechanical diagnosis and therapy, includes exercises for improving spinal mobility and posture. 

It is advisable to check with your doctor before you try this exercise. While doing it on your own, make sure you move slowly.

To do McKenzie prone press-ups:

  • Lie down on your stomach. 

  • Place your hands under your shoulders.

  • Lift your upper body by slowly straightening your arms. 

  • Hold this position for 2 seconds before going back to the starting position.

  • Complete 10 reps and repeat this exercise up to 8 times per day.

In such uncertain times, it is important to take care of yourself and evade preventable health issues. Try to maintain a balanced routine, with a healthy diet, exercise, and some downtime to keep yourself physically and mentally fit. 

If symptoms of back pain persist or worsen, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor immediately. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.