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Ask the Professional: What Can I do with a Sore Back?

I have been working from home since March last year and my neck and back are sore from sitting at the computer at my kitchen table. What can I do about this?

It is important to try to have good ergonomics when sitting at a computer for periods of time.  It is also important that you schedule breaks to allow you to get up from the computer and move around.  This wakes up your postural muscles, moves the fluid around that lubricates your joints and allows you to stretch.

Good ergonomics put our body in optimal postures while working.  When working on a computer, you want your screen to be close to eye level, so that your eyes are mostly looking at the upper third of the screen.  If you are using a laptop, elevate the laptop to bring the screen up and then use an external keyboard and mouse.  The screen should be approximately arms length away.

Try to keep your shoulders relaxed, hold your arms close to your body with your elbows at approximately 90 degrees bent.  Rest your forearms on the table and hold your wrists in a neutral position and your hands aligned with your forearms.

Ideally sit in a adjustable chair with your back straight and the lower portion of your back resting against the chair back.  You may need to put a small cushion behind your low back to help prevent slouching.  Set the chair height so that your thighs are near parallel to the floor and about three fingers width between the back of your knees and the chair seat.  Sit with your feet resting on the floor, or a foot rest if you can’t reach the floor, with your ankles at approximately 90 degrees.

Consider where you have your phone and use a headset rather than holding the phone between your neck and shoulder.  Keep commonly used items within easy reach, and if you have to get up to get something take that as an opportunity to move and stretch!

Having said all of that and acknowledging that one factor is the posture you use most, it is just as important (or perhaps even more!) that we move regularly.  Our bodies benefit significantly from regular movement. It is recommended that you set a timer or alert on your computer to remind you to get out of your chair and move.  There is a mantra that we use around the clinic that says this: Motion is Lotion.  The lotion for our joints and tissues is created and spread by the motions they go through. So you see, nothing can replace the positive benefit of just moving!  

The infographic below is a helpful tool when trying to set a habit of moving regularly even while working at home.  Please see our website ( or reach out to us at the clinic (705 788 1480) if you need more help or maybe even an assessment to get you on the right track.  Like you, we are working over the internet too so we can help no matter where you may be located!

an infographic depicting different stretches you can do at your desk