Work from home has become the norm for many businesses. As more companies shift to remote work, you may find yourself sitting in front of your laptop or computer in your home more than usual. However, unlike the setup at the office, you may not have a chair that can support your back adequately with a makeshift desk to match. Working from the dining table seems just as good an option as buying a new desk and table.
But decreased physical activity and sitting long hours in front of a computer—especially with bad posture—can cause you significant back pain. This can be very uncomfortable, and constant strain on your back may cause muscle spasms as well.
Staying and working at home should be as comfortable and healthy as possible. You can do many things to improve your work from home experience, from reorganizing your space to getting accessories that can keep you comfortable.
We’ve listed several accessories that can surely help you improve your posture and prevent back pain as you work from home.
Setting Up Your Workspace
Back pain from working in a home office has a lot to do with a poorly designed workspace. You may not have the proper chair or a desk that’s high enough, or your impromptu home office may not have enough space for you to sit comfortably. According to ergonomics, however, you need to ensure that you stay comfortable despite the long hours you spend at work. Try to observe the following practices:
- Put your computer screen at an arm’s length; it should not be higher than your eyes.
- Keep everything within reach to prevent unnecessary straining of your muscles.
- Keep your wrists straight and relaxed when typing.
- Use an adjustable and ergonomic chair.
- Make sure that your knees and feet are relaxed and level.
When you set up your working space, the first two things you need to secure are a level desk and a comfortable chair.
According to ergonomics, to prevent back pains when working, you need a chair that can keep your spine, ears, and hips aligned with each other. Getting an office chair with adjustable height features and proper lumbar support is ideal. But if you only use a normal chair at home, you can buy accessories to ensure a proper and comfortable sitting experience.
One of these accessories is a seat cushion. Seat cushions can help distribute your weight evenly, thus decreasing the strain on your back. You may opt for either a gel seat cushion or a memory foam seat cushion.
How do they offer support?
Memory foam helps minimize the stress of long hours of sitting on your tailbone and lower back. Gel seat cushion also provides adequate support and relieves pressure from the surface of the chair on your backside. Many gel seat cushions also have cooling pads.
Here’s a tip in buying a suitable seat cushion for you: get one with a large sitting area. The larger the sitting area, the less pressure and strain.
Seat cushions like the Keiba Coccyx Seat Cushion have memory foam layered with soothing gel technology. It is created with a cut-out design that takes away the burden and tension from your weight on your tailbone. Aside from lower back pain, it can also help with hip and sciatic pain.
Moreover, the good thing about this is you can easily use it on any seat! You can even carry it for your future travels.
Lumbar Support Pillow
Ergonomics also tells us to make sure that you keep your back on the backrest to avoid hunching. Working in a hunched position will strain your lower back as it tries to support the muscles and bear all the weight. A lumbar support pillow aims to solve this by having a curved shape that follows the contours of your spine. It improves your posture and alleviates muscle stress.
Lumbar support pillows are especially helpful for people who suffer from chronic back pain and prominent spinal curves. Nonetheless, it is just as beneficial even for people who do not have significant back problems. Similar to a seat cushion, you can easily fasten lumbar support pillows to any chair and adjust it to your preferred position. While it provides relief, make sure to consult a doctor before purchasing one suitable for you.
When looking for the perfect lumbar support pillow for you, you can try the Everlasting Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow. It has a memory foam, which is good for support and pressure relief, as well as two adjustable straps that you can fit in almost every chair.
Rolling Keyboard Tray
Improper positioning of the keyboard and mouse can strain not only your wrist but also your shoulder and upper back. To prevent back strains, it might be helpful to use a rolling keyboard tray. Your wrist will remain in a neutral position as you type so that you can avoid hunching or shrugging your shoulders to reach out for the keyboard or the mouse.
There are premade desktop tables with built-in keyboard tray rollers. But if you are planning on attaching one to your desk, here are some of the things you should consider in buying a rolling keyboard tray:
- Dimensions. Measure how it’ll fit on your desk. Consider some space for your other computer peripherals (e.g. mouse, speakers).
- Go for drilled attachment. As much as possible, go for a drilled keyboard tray because it is steadier than clamp types.
- Height and tilt adjustments. Make sure that you can have a wide range of motion with the tray you’ll get.
You also want to get a keyboard tray that can fit both a keyboard and a mouse to refrain from reaching out too far frequently.
3M’s 17-inch keyboard tray is wide enough to fit both. This keyboard tray also hits two birds with one stone because it has a wrist rest! As if that’s not enough, it also has an adjustable knob to adjust to your preferred height depending on your current position.
While working at a home office is more stable when sitting down, it’s better if you don’t remain in one position for hours. You can take breaks, stand, and stretch, even if it is just to get food. Even if you think you are too busy, try as much as you can to devote even as short as 15 minutes of your time to do simple workouts.
Aside from taking regular breaks and exercises, you can also continue working even as you change your position. Sit-standing desks are adjustable to a height that would allow you to work on a desk job while standing up.
You can start a DIY project out of your current working desk or improvise by stacking a pile of books on your table. However, you can definitely invest in one; there are several pre-made sit-stand desks available in the market. Two of the most recommended brands are New Heights Elegante XT 2020, rated best in its adjustment range of 27 inches, and Vert Desk v3 2020 whose max height ensures desk stability.
Back Pillow Massager
Another soothing and muscle tension prevention accessory are back pillow massagers. Different types of this accessory use varying methods to stimulate muscle movement and blood circulation. Some massagers use ball-shaped nodes that may sometimes come with a heating system to massage the muscles.
You could also opt for massage cushions that use air pressure and vibration. This type does not have nodes that apply gentle pressure on the muscles. Instead, it uses air pressure or vibration to tighten and expand on a particular area.
Studies have shown that massage pillows are not only helpful with relieving muscle strain, but it also promotes relaxation. Massage pillows can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and even strengthen your immunity by helping boost your white blood cell count. There may be little to no risk with getting a back pillow massager, but it is always best to consult your chiropractor about which type suits you the best. Also, you can choose from a full-sized model to smaller on-the-go travel-sized models.
One of the most recommended and popular massage cushions are Shiatsu massage cushions. Shiatsu, which means finger pressure in Japanese, is a massage technique that applies pressure on specific pressure points on the body. It reduces muscle tension and fatigue while improving blood circulation.
Shiatsu massage cushions have nodes that will move in an inward-outward motion on the specific pressure points, mimicking the hands of a masseuse. Many brands, such as Comfier and Nursal have full Shiatsu massage cushion models that cover both the neck and the back area. Other brands like Etekcity have smaller and more compact Shiatsu massage models. You can conveniently charge these and use them on chairs in your home.
Because back pains are mostly due to having bad posture, there is no better prevention than to correct the root of the problem. Aside from comfortable workspace tools, you can also get accessories that would correct your posture. You can choose from traditional nonsurgical back braces support to more high-tech mobile applications.
Back Corrector Braces
Posture corrector braces are wearable braces that remind your body of the proper alignment. Corrector braces are suitable for people who want to solve back aches and pains and do not have significant back conditions, injuries, or deformities. For every posture problem, there is an appropriate type of corrector brace.
Remember! Before purchasing one, it is best to consult your doctor whether you should get one and which type is best for you.
High-Tech Posture Correctors
These high-tech posture correctors are wearable devices that buzz or produce an alerting sound and sensation when the person slouches. These techy posture correctors are very creative and innovative. You can have something as small as a compact device temporarily attached to your back that alerts your phone upon sensing your improper posture.
If you want something small and almost unnoticeable, there are habit and posture tracking devices like the Upright Go Posture. It has a very high-tech, minimalistic, and futuristic look that sends a gentle vibration to correct your posture. The Upright Go Posture can detect whether your upper body is relaxing or slouching or if you are standing tall when walking.
But wait, there’s more! It comes with a downloadable mobile application where you can track your posture. It even suggests stretching videos you can do.
If you think these posture correctors can’t get any smaller and subtler, you’re totally mistaken.
Activity and posture trackers can be as miniature as a peanut. Using a magnetic clasp, you can attach the Lumo Lift Posture Activity Tracker to your clothes, just below your collarbone. Likewise, this device connects to a mobile application that sends a vibration whenever the person slouches.
Meanwhile, if you prefer not wearing any posture corrector at all, there are still high-tech devices made to monitor your posture while working or sitting for long hours.
This one may be a bit expensive but its features are promising!
It’s the DARMA Comfort Foam Seat Cushion! It is similar to seat cushions, the only difference is that its fibers have optical sensor technology that lightly buzzes upon sensing you slouch or lean improperly. It’s paired with an application that will also send a voice alert to either call out your improper posture or commend when you have a good posture.
Working at home is indeed very comfortable because you are freer to be yourself and everything is familiar to you. However, your home may not have the space you need to stay comfortable and prevent back pain as you work long hours.
If you’re not careful, it can lead to long-term health problems. Poor posture and poor health can also hinder your productivity.
The accessories we listed above are tools to aid in your proper back and posture management. But you also have to make it a habit to remind yourself to keep your back straight, as well as perform stretching and exercises that can alleviate your back pain. It’s also in your best interest to ask for professional help if the pain is too much to bear.
Remember: make working at home as comfortable as you can. For improved posture, less back pain, and enhanced productivity, observe proper ergonomics in your workspace, get the right accessories, and keep yourself moving.