As home working becomes more common, and seems to be here to stay for at least part of the working week, we are seeing a lot more patients with back and neck related injuries. A lot of these are related to posture.

Here are some simple tips to adjust your home office to help maintain a healthy back and neck:

1. Where possible avoid laptops! If at all possible use a monitor and separate keyboard so that you can adjust the height of the screen- this prevents forwards and flexed head postures which add additional strain to the neck and upper back. If this isn’t possible consider a standing desk for at least part of the working day.

2. Choose a chair with lumbar support. Most office chairs have built-in support for the mid and lower back. However, this is not always the case with dining chairs, which a lot of people end up using at home. If you don’t have the option of an office chair at home try sitting on a gym ball, or discuss the possibility of an office chair at home with your employer, especially if you are likely to continue home working for the foreseeable future.

3. Avoid twisting. Often when people rely on two screens for their work, or working in a cramped space, they end up twisting or leaning to one side, adding strain to one part of the back. Aim to have your screens central on your desk to reduce the need to twist, clear any obstructions under your desk, and keep the hips square on to the desk by planting the feet on the floor hip width apart.

4. Think 90 degrees- as a general rule you should aim to have the hips, knees and elbows at 90 degrees when seated at your desk. Consider raising or lowering your desk as needed to meet this recommended body position.

5. Get moving! It is amazing how many patients say they don’t stand up at all for several hours at a time. Even just standing once an hour, getting up to make a drink or going for a short lunchtime walk will make such a difference to how you feel. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to help you meet this target.

If you are still having problems and regularly getting aches in your back, neck or shoulders come and see us for an assessment at Bristol Physiotherapy Clinic.

Jenny Collins

Chartered Physiotherapist