How to Make the Most Out of Working from Home

Working from home can be a great advantage! You may get to wear more comfortable clothes, have a more flexible schedule, and spend more time with your family. On the other hand, working at home could be a disadvantage if you are distracted by the necessities of your home and if you don’t have an efficient, ergonomic work space. Here are 3 helpful hints that can help you be more productive, use your body more efficiently, and reduce risk of pain while being efficient as you work from home!

1) Avoid the couch!

While it may be easy to want to plop on the couch and throw your feet up, chances are the couch was not designed with you working on it like that in mind. Depending on how tight your hamstrings are, this could be putting excessive strain on your low back as you move into an abnormal amount of pelvic and low back flexion. Not to mention, the couch may be too comfy for you to want to get any work done!

Tips if you cannot avoid the couch:

  1. Sit up, with your feet on the ground.
  1. If this puts you in a position without any back support, then simply grab a few of the couch pillows, and place them in your low back area to fill in the gap.
  1. Ensure your workstation is high enough for you to not have to bend at your low back to reach your keyboard/writing surface.

2) Creating a standing desk

“Sitting is the new smoking” has been said on more than one occasion recently by those in the healthcare community. It puts the greatest amount of pressure and stress on the spinal discs in between the vertebrae, and ultimately can lead to breakdown of those discs. While it is a necessity at times to sit and do work, it is best to break up the continuous amount of sitting by standing up. Thus, at home, if you have the ability, it would be best to use the countertop, a desk, a cabinet, etc, so that you are able to go back and forth from your sitting station and give that low back of yours a break!

Tips if do not have standing station:

  1. Create one! Grab some old textbooks, cookbooks, boxes – whatever! As long as it makes it a stable surface, and allows you to avoid bending at your low or mid back to work, then it should be looked at as an option.

3) Create a quiet area in the home

A home work environment, while convenient, can carry many distractions if not setup correctly. If it is not an everyday occurrence you work at home, or you do not have a home office that you can retreat to, then the next best route is to create a quiet space that will allow you to optimize the time you have at home.

Tips to create a quiet home-work environment:

  1. Turn off all electronics, especially the TV
  2. Place your phone on Airplane mode
  3. Music is fine! Just make sure it is helping you be productive – and not distracting you and making you want to get up and dance

These are just a few of the tips that you can utilize to help prevent low back pain while working at home. If there is still pain, it may be something out of your control, and would be a great time to go see your local physical therapist!

Author: Dr. Mike Anderson, PT, DPT, CFMT