By April of last year, 41% of Brits had done some form of work at home1 – with numbers fluctuating throughout the year. And since, then, more and more of us are setting up shop at home and looking for more flexible working arrangements in the future. Whether in our home office or at work – long hours at our desks can cause a range of problems and lead to pain throughout the body.
While we might have HR professionals to help us set up our desks in the office, at home it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits or create a home working environment that can aggravate existing conditions or create new pain points.
Back pain from sitting at a desk
One of the most common complaints from sitting at a desk for long hours is back pain. According to a 2020 study, 33% of office workers have experienced back pain as a direct result of their working environment.2 Generally, back pain from sitting at your desk can be split into two categories:
Lower back pain sitting at a desk
Lower back pain from sitting can be caused when you put too much pressure on your lower vertebrae. While you’re stood upright, the discs in your back can align properly. However, when you‘re sat they compress. Too much of this and you can start to suffer from lower back pain.
Upper back pain sitting at a desk
Upper back and shoulder pain is often caused by poor posture, or when you put too much strain on your muscles by sitting in the same position for too long. Always try and have a break or adjust your sitting position throughout the day to avoid upper back pain.
How to sit at your desk to avoid pain:
The key to avoiding back pain at your desk is back support. Ensure you have a chair with proper back support and try to sit with your back straight – the more you hunch over the more likely you’ll be to suffer from back pain. Try to sit as close to your desk as possible, with your arms parallel to your spine and your hands at a straight, 90-degree angle over your workspace.
Wrist pain from typing
Wrist pain from typing at a desk is often caused by a condition caused by repetitive strain injury, or RSI. RSI is caused by repetitive actions like typing. It generally affects the muscles and tendons in your wrists and can be very painful if left untreated.
Visit our blog to see 5 easy to follow wrist pain exercises.
Shoulder pain from sitting at a desk
Like wrist pain, shoulder pain is often caused by repetitive movements putting strain on your shoulder muscles. As well as typing, shoulder pain might be aggravated by prolonged phone use or long periods of sitting. To avoid shoulder pain, take regular breaks and stretch when possible. For example, sit straight back in your chair with your feet on the floor and your arms on your armrests. Lift your shoulders up in a shrug and hold them there for a few seconds. Repeat a few times before returning to work.
Neck pain from sitting at a desk
Neck pain from sitting at your desk is often caused by a bad workstation setup. For example, if your computer screen isn’t positioned correctly, you may be putting unnecessary strain on your neck muscle. To avoid this, make sure you keep your computer screen at eye level. Keeping your computer at eye level will help prevent you from having to stretch your neck up or down to see properly and help to avoid chronic neck pain.
Find out more on exercises to relieve neck and shoulder pain.
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