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5 tips for maintaining a healthy spine while working from home

Working from home has become more and more common since the COVID-19 outbreak, and we’ve since had an influx of people come to us with back pain and overall dissatisfaction with their WFH setup.

Here are some home office setup ideas to help improve your workspace, posture and overall well being. The good news is that you can customise your home office to create an environment where you’re both healthy and inspired to work.

1. Get the right equipment and position

Despite the above looking like the most comfortable way to work, it is wrong in so many ways. Working on the couch or hunched over can be very damaging to your back in the long term - instead, the top of the screen needs to be the same height as the top of your head.

The computer monitor should be positioned so that there is no distracting glare from incoming sunlight, allowing the occupant to enjoy the benefits of a bright and airy workspace. The ergonomic chair and ideal desk height help ensure that the hours you put in don’t leave you feeling tired and cramped afterwards.

2. Keep moving throughout the day

Probably the most important advice is that you must keep moving. Regardless of how ergonomic your workplace is, you are not designed to stay at it for hours. When you get back to your desk, why not spend ten minutes on a yoga ball? Bounce around, activate the core, get the spine moving and energise the body. Get healthy routines, and do essential exercises. Instead of damaging your health, make it an opportunity to really stimulate the mind and body.

3. Let there be light!

In 2017, the National Sleep Foundation published a study suggesting that workers who enjoy an abundance of natural light in their offices reported better quality sleep compared to those who worked in windowless surroundings. They felt more rested and their productivity levels were higher. You must love your little environment. Make it colourful, comfortable, and inspiring. It is possibly the most important place you have now. Make it a place you look forward to being at.

Other known benefits of natural light in an office setting include:

  • Fewer mistakes in one’s work

  • Increased alertness

  • Improved mood

  • Reduced eye strain

4. Make sure to hydrate

People continue to say, “But I don’t like water!!!” We say, “Humans are designed to hydrate, and we are designed to “pee” every few hours.” Hydration is essential. Coffee and tea are diuretics so with each glass you need another glass of water. Have a beautiful glass jug and/or a glass water bottle. Why not put some lemon/ mint/ice in it and every hour get up and grab a fresh glass. Drink half the glass there and take the rest to your desk. Maybe even have a jug and boil up some hot water and on occasion make a herbal tea. But get up and cross the room to get it. It is an opportunity to move.

5. Add a touch of green

There’s a reason why plants are a core part of both traditional and home office spaces. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working in a corner office or your kitchen table; the presence of plants leaves you feeling calm and centred. Other benefits include:

  • They become attractive accessories when placed in pots or planters that complement the surrounding decor

  • They add dimension to workspaces of all sizes

  • They eliminate airborne toxins such as the chemicals found in carpets, furniture polish, printer ink, and more

  • Plants are natural humidifiers, so dry eyes, sore throats, and similar discomforts can be reduced

Your next position is your best position

If there is a take home message that anyone can use, regardless of how big, fancy and ergonomic your home office is, it is that it is essential for your body to move, and move often. Set a timer to 45 minutes and take a 5 minute stretching break. Take your phone calls while walking around and go for some fresh air after a task is done. The state your office is in is important, but the state your body is in is essential.

If you have any questions on how to improve your office setup, or what stretches we recommend to improve your posture, ask your chiropractor at Back in Action next time we have the privilege to take care of your body and spine.

The team at Back In Action

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