Back- and neck-related problems, especially those affecting the lower back, have been increasing over the past few years. Indeed, a rapidly rising number of young Malaysian adults are suffering from neck and back pain – especially those who work from home and for long hours on their devices – owing to a sedentary lifestyle and poor posture.
It’s important to pay attention to your body’s warning signs to lessen the risk of developing serious spinal conditions. If you haven’t yet returned to the workplace and often spend hours at your desk at home, the following steps can help alleviate back and neck pain.
1. Create the best work area
Invest in a proper desk and office chair to straighten your neck and back. Ensure the furniture you’re going to be working on is comfortable, supportive, adjustable, and ergonomically sound.Consider a desk with an optimal height so your neck, shoulders, and arms remain in a neutral position. Minimise the chances of visual eye strain by setting up your workstation perpendicular to the window and away from direct light.
2. Work on your posture
As you work, you often slump in your seat or spend too much time leaning forward, hunched over your computer. By doing so, you unconsciously put pressure on your neck and spine.
A good standing or sitting posture requires the body to be symmetrical, with weight evenly distributed and well aligned so it does not strain your neck and back muscles.
Simple measures like using a desktop computer or, failing which, a monitor connected to your laptop would be a more ergonomic solution. Alternatively, use a book or laptop stand to raise your device so it is at eye level.
Try keeping your forearms and hands level and straight by strategically placing your keyboard and mouse.
While seated, simple steps such as placing a small pillow behind your lower back can help your spine maintain an arch and relieve your back muscles.
3. Relax your muscles
The main problem with working at a desk is that you’re stuck in one place for too long, and the stresses of work can take their toll on your wellbeing.
To keep your mind and, by extension, body healthy, combine basic stretches with breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques intermittently as you work.
Stretches, short walks, or even small bursts of exercise are great ways to activate and engage your muscles. One of the simplest ways to integrate exercise is to set alarms or reminders throughout the day to get up and stretch.
A 30-second “microbreak” is enough to change your posture briefly and take the pressure off your spine.