How Working From Home Every Day Really Changes Your Body

Admit it: If you work from home, you've likely started slouching on the couch during conference calls, working on reports from bed, or slumping over your desk, without worry of a coworker commenting on your unprofessional composure. Despite how freeing this may feel, working from home can wreak havoc on our posture, and as a result, our overall health.

Available at-home work spaces, even those that are thoughtfully designed or repurposed, are likely not ergonomic. A kitchen table isn't the same as a desk, and kitchen barstools don't have the support of an office chair. A small credenza might look like a decent desk, but the small changes in height can make a major difference (via Vice). Added to that, many of us have shifted from computers with full-size monitors to being hunched over laptops for most of our day, especially as every meeting goes virtual. In-office meetings may not have been fun, but at least they gave you the chance to move around, and look at people face-to-face, rather than bending over to stare into your webcam.

Just as remote work is on the rise, so too is back and neck pain. "Slouching at our desks is a common trigger of back pain," Doctor Robert Bolash told the Cleveland Clinic. "When you're sitting all day, it's important to have proper ergonomics and take breaks to move around — even if only for a few minutes."

What can you do to fix back pain?

First, start by getting off of the couch or out of bed, and, if possible, set yourself up at a normal table and chair setup. Then, raise your monitor or laptop so that you're viewing it while looking straight ahead. You may need to buy an external keyboard or monitor, depending on how you want to configure your setup. When you type, your elbow to your fingertips should form a straight line (via Time). You may even want to set a reminder on your phone to tell you to sit up straight.

If you are sitting on a kitchen chair, consider adding more support like a cushion or pillow to sit on, or a rolled-up towel behind your lower back for support (via The University of Michigan).

If your only option is to work in your bedroom, and eve on the bed (many couples and families in small apartments face this circumstance), try to prop your laptop up on a pillow to find the right height, and support your lower back with a pillow or rolled up towel (via Get the Gloss). Or, get creative: kitchen counters can be used as standing desks to break up the workday.

Lastly, make sure you're getting regular breaks from that seated position. Stand up and walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, take short exercise breaks, and even pause to do a stretch or two. Your spine will thank you.