Tuesday, July 5

Teleworking: how to sit down to avoid back pain


Before the pandemic, in 2019, 4.8% of people worked from home, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). They knew how to sit to avoid back pain.

I want to buy an office chair to telework: five keys to getting it right

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Now, and after having gone through one of the toughest health crises and in order to reduce infections, the number has grown significantly and it is estimated that almost three million people already telecommute in Spain. And they do it without the proper knowledge of ergonomics.

This assumes that the 14.7% of the total of employees telework, either partially or totally. Even after the state of alarm has been lifted and we have begun to live a certain normality, teleworking is still the norm for thousands of workers.

A practice that carries with it certain health problems due to maintaining bad posture when sitting down. Because we have had to convert our homes into offices without counting in many cases with the most suitable conditions to do so.

Poor posture problems

We may be using the laptop on the kitchen counter or using the sofa as a desk chair. Most likely, in scenarios like this or similar, is that let’s not maintain a healthy posture.

And the bad news is that in some cases we are on our way to a musculoskeletal injury such as back, neck and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. There may appear aches and pains that until now were not had.

A study published in Musculoskeletal Care reveals that prolonged sitting due to behavioral changes during the pandemic has led to an increase in 19% in back pain in many people, most of whom had never been in pain before. This is due, above all, to the fact that most of the domestic environments where we work do not have adequate space or ergonomic furniture.

What are the most common pains and their causes

  • Headache: it can be caused by inadequate lighting and a bad position of the computer screen because we force our eyes to work a lot.
  • Neck and back pain: A chair that does not have much support and an ill-adjusted work desk can put stress on your back and cause pain and tension.
  • Tendonitis and muscle tension: tendonitis of the tennis player’s shoulder and elbow are very common with repetitive movements such as using the mouse.

How to bring ergonomics at home

There are certain ergonomic guidelines that are basic to prevent muscular and visual discomfort when working in front of the computer:

  • Adjust the chair. We must make sure we are sitting in a chair that allows us to have good support for the lower back, with our feet resting on the floor or on a footrest and our knees bent at a 90 degree angle. The chair should be close to the chair, with the back forming an “L”, also at a 90 degree angle to the legs.
  • Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees on the armrests of the chair (if they are too high or low, it is better not to use them). The shoulders should be relaxed. The height of the desk should be the same as that of the shoulders when we are sitting.
  • Position the screen at eye level, with the head in a neutral posture. In this way we can look at it directly without having to tilt the head up or down. Failure to look straight ahead is one of the practices that causes the most back pain. If we are using a laptop we can place a stack of books and use an external keyboard at a comfortable height for the elbows.
  • When using the keyboard, the wrists should be relaxed and aligned with the forearm.
  • Table, keyboard, screen. In addition to maintaining a correct posture, there are other fundamental elements. The table should be at a height of about 75-80 centimeters; the keyboard about 10 centimeters from the edge of the table; the distance of the screen about 45 centimeters from the eyes.

Other tips to keep pain away

But, even with proper posture like the one described, staying still and sitting for long periods will be detrimental to muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, etc. Therefore, it is advisable to:

  • Take frequent breaks: change positions frequently, get up regularly and stretch. It is advisable to do it every 45 minutes approximately to relax the muscles that may be in tension and the body in general.
  • Think about posture: Being aware of how we are sitting will help us to correct mistakes. Straight back, feet on the ground, relaxed shoulders, straight head and slightly sunken chin.
  • Keep active: physical activity if we work from home will surely be zero or very little. But it’s important to keep moving, go for a walk every day, and get some form of exercise.

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