This is how to avoid back pain when working from home - and the worst positions to sit in

Working from home has rapidly become the new normal for most people during thecoronavirus pandemic.

While it has its positives – being able to stay in your pyjamas all day without your boss knowing, for example – home working comes with its issues.

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One of these is the lack of suitable office equipment, like a supportive chair. Working from astiff kitchen chair, or even your sofa, can cause many problems for your back.

In fact, research by FurnitureChoice.co.uk revealed a quarter of Brits experience back painevery day, with one in nine people feeling constant soreness.

Who is most likely to suffer from back pain?

Surprisingly, the problem affects young people the most, with one in three 18-to-35-year-olds experiencing back aches and pains daily.

In comparison, people aged between 45 and 64 are least likely to regularly experience backsoreness, with only 19 percent feeling pain every day.

Seating positions which can lead to back pain

According to chartered physiotherapist Lyndsay Hirst, who owns Your Pilates Physio, it’ssustained postures that tend to lead to back pain.

The research revealed the four seating positions people prefer when perching on the sofa,and Hirst explains how they can affect the body:

  • Twisted - Legs on the sofa to the side of the body. Upper body twisted to face the TV or front of the room. Hirst says: “The spine is twisted here, so being sat in this position for a prolonged time may cause some discomfort in either the back or the hips. This position would cause additional problems if the person had some restrictions in their spine or pelvis, putting more strain on the facet joints of the spine.”
  • Boomerang - Slouching low in the seat with no lower back support with legsresting on another surface. “This slumped posture creates a curve to the spine that causes the fluid to be moved to the posterior part of the intervertebral discs, potentially putting pressure on them. The neck and shoulder muscles have to work harder than normal to keep the head upright, which could eventually lead to muscular discomfort. Sustaining this posture will also eventually lead to the weakening of the back and abdominal muscles, which in turn may cause back pain.”
  • Straight - Feet flat on the floor, back fully supported by sofa/cushions. “Here the body is in perfect alignment: head in line with shoulders and spine, and hips in a neutral position. While this is an ideal seating posture, sustaining it for a long time will eventually cause discomfort, purely because the body is designed to move.”
  • Slouched - Slouching low in the seat with no lower back support and feet on the ground. “Just like the boomerang position, the back curve here puts pressure on the spine, while making it harder for the neck and shoulders to support the head. Additionally, the thighs are not supported which would again put additional strain on the back.”

Can you treat back pain at home?

Thankfully, treating back pain is relatively simple and methods can be carried out at home.

Hirst advises getting up and walking about regularly, changing your seating position andexercising often, all of which can lower your risk of developing back problems.

Dr. Diana Gall, MD and GP at Doctor4U, adds: “Luckily, most cases of back pain can betreated from home with pain relief, ice & heat therapy, and gentle exercises. You should make sure to keep your back mobile without aggravating the affected muscles or ligaments too much.”

Commenting on the research, owner of FurnitureChoice.co.uk, Tom Obbard, says: “As anation, we are now being urged to stay indoors and as a result spending more time sittingdown so there is no better time to take these tips on board.

“It is important to remember to get up from your desk or sofa regularly, change your seating position often and even fit in a home workout to help protect your spine.”