If you’re new to working from home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, then you’re probably camped out at your kitchen counter, dining room table, living room sofa or, in the case of roommate-filled houses, your bed. It’s quite possible you don’t have the means or the space to invest in a full-on, ergonomic office setup — and that means your posture is probably suffering. All that physical strain from sitting or standing at an ad hoc desk setup can lead to an uncomfortable amount of soreness and, in the worst case, debilitating back pain.
So, what can you do to minimize your discomfort? Make sure your setup takes these notions into consideration:
- 1) Make sure your keyboard and mouse are positioned appropriately. According to Time, "The nerves in the hand leave the neck and run down through the shoulder, elbow and wrist. When your arm is at your side, the nerves aren’t being compressed, but the more you stretch it out to the side, the greater chance you have of straining your neck or shoulder."
- 2) Minimize the chances of visual eye strain by not turning your back on a bright, glare-causing window. Instead, work sideways to said window.
- 3) View your computer straight on, at eye level. That is, make sure you don’t look down at your computer screen.
- 4) Rest your feet flat on the floor for extra support. Don’t kick back — no matter how tempting.
- 5) Sit back in your chair — don’t hunch forward.
- 6) Standing desks aren’t a cure-all! According to Time, standing to do computer work "puts greater strain on the circulatory system and on the legs and feet."
- 7) Avoid working on your bed, if possible. Often, you’ll have your legs horizontal with no support from your feet — and your laptop is propped on them, meaning you’re looking down.
- 8) Every 20 or 30 minutes, stretch and walk around a bit.
Of course, even if you’re doing your best to mitigate back pain or create a comfortable at-home office environment, the aches and pains might still persist. If that’s the case, we’ve come up with some creative solutions to ensure you can avoid and ease debilitating back pain, no matter your means.
Under $30: A Handheld Massager, a Heating Pad and Foam Rollers
While the idea that yoga is some sort of cure-all for your physical and emotional pains may feel tired to you, there’s certainly some undeniable truth in the power of stretching and reconnecting with your body in a meditative way. Roll out the yoga mat throughout the day and do some light stretching, especially if you’re working on a bed or sofa. Make sure to complement any stretch sesh with some foam rolling, using an affordable, but effective product, like the GoFit Foam Roller. For the unfamiliar, foam rollers are lightweight cylinders of compressed foam that when used for stretching can aid your flexibility, reduce inflammation and ease the aches and pains almost anywhere in your body.
Under $50: Massage Cushions, Backrests and CBD Gummies
If the handheld massager wasn’t quite powerful enough to untwist your knots, you might try the Prospera 15-Speed Massage Deep Shiatsu Kneading Cushion. What we love about this product is that you can simply set it up at your workstation and find relief as you type. The pair of kneading heads — which also contain jade stones — are perfect for working out kinks in the neck, shoulders, back and thighs. Best of all, the four massage heads provide a deep tissue Shiatsu massage, meaning you’ll be feeling loose and limber at the touch of a button.
Under $150: A Vibrating Foam Roller
If the good, old fashioned foam roller wasn’t powerful enough for you, we suggest taking things to the next level. Enter the Theragun Wave Roller. Sure, this thing looks like some kind of sci-fi time capsule, or maybe an old tire, but rest assured it works wonders. In essence, the vibrations allow for even more relief and just like a traditional foam roller, it helps you enhance your circulation and increase your flexibility.
Under $200: Percussive Massage Device
The cheaper massage options just aren’t cutting it? Well, we recommend dialing up the intensity with Theragun’s Mini Handheld Percussive Massage Device. Made specifically for treating chronic back and muscle pain, this massager has three speed options, allowing you to create custom treatments. Additionally, the brushless motor and QuietForce technology reduce the noise level, without sacrificing power.
Under $250: An Ergonomic Desk Chair
This might sound like an obvious solution, but if you have the money and the space, investing in a proper, ergonomic chair for your at-home office can be a great way to mitigate back pain. In essence, you’re creating a better starting point for your body. We all have aches and pains, but using a chair specifically designed to lessen those issues is a great first step to greater comfort.
Over $500: A Full-On Massage Chair
Want to give yourself the royal treatment? Well, if you have the space and means, nothing beats the full-body experience of Human Touch’s WholeBody 5.1 Upholstery Massage Chair. After a long day, throw on Netflix or simply close your eyes and relax. The chair’s FlexGlide orbital massage technology works your body both firmly and gently, mimicking the feel of a professional massage.