How to make working from home work for you

As one of the UK’s leading London physiotherapists, I regularly write about injuries, treatment and assessment techniques.

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Over the past week, I’ve had quite a few people who are working from home contact me because they’re starting to struggle with neck and back pain. They’re suddenly working from their laptop on the sofa or on the dining table, having obviously switched suddenly from their ergonomic workstations, and things are starting to hurt. There are many factors that affect neck and back pain, including:

Sitting still for too long

Working from home means it’s harder to create boundaries around “work time” and “home time” – which, for a lot of people, translates into the home now becoming the workplace, so that you don’t stop working. Also when you’re working from home, your day isn’t broken for you into manageable chunks (meetings, lunchtime etc). You can’t get up to talk to a colleague so you have to sit and email them, and because there’s nobody to chat with, you aren’t as incentivised to get up to go to the water fountain or the photocopier! Spines are designed for movement – if they were designed to be still, we’d have one long bone instead of 24 movable vertebrae!

Poor workstation ergonomics

Let’s just say that working from your laptop on the sofa or at the dining table isn’t great ergonomically! To start with, when you use a laptop, your hands and eyes are inevitably pulled too close together, so that either your head has to drop too low, or your hands are hunched too hight, or both. But also, good office chairs are designed to move with you and support you correctly, whereas sofas are designed to draw you in and keep you still… which reduces your disc metabolism and strains your ligaments, eventually increasing the risk of back problems.


This article from the Cleveland Clinic explores the link between fear and stress, and back pain – and right now we are certainly living in a time of uncertainty and fear! Stress is a big factor in back pain because when we are stressed or fearful, we tend to breathe from the top of our lungs rather than using our diaphragms properly. This in turn allows our ribcages to stiffen up, which affects the back and abdominal muscles that connect our ribcages to our pelvises – again, causing excessive sustained pressure through our discs!

The individual solution

Of course, if you need specific help or advice, then I’m available for online physiotherapy, and I would love to discuss personalised solutions. However, as always, it’s far better to not get into bad habits in the first place and that’s why, a couple of years ago, I designed an online programme called Stretches for Home-Based Workers, with some quick and easy ideas as to how to prevent your back and neck from getting stiff and sore. It’s usually £14.99, but during the lockdown I’m giving 50% off, if you use the discount code STUPIDCORONAVIRUS at checkout. (Use the same discount code if you want to try my other online courses during the lockdown, including Yoga for Stressed People, which should help with the stress-related component!)

The corporate solution

I’ve also been working on a presentation and talk to deliver live over Zoom to groups of office workers, which willhelp HR managers and Occupational Health directors meet their duty of care to home-working staff. It’ll be a 20-minute presentation with a 15-minute Q&A session at the end, accompanied by a resource sheet. To book that for your company, please email my team with your requirements and we will get it in the diary.

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Many people assume that a stiff or sore neck is an inevitable part of aging. 

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(online treatment still available)

The Prime Minister’s announcement on 1 Nov was clear that medical services should continue, and that people who need medical appointments should continue to attend them. Therefore the clinic will remain open, with everything wipe-clean and COVID-safe.

"Virtual first" continues...

However, the current government advice is that I have to see patients online before I can see you in clinic, and that I should only see you face to face (or mask to mask!) if we both agree that the benefits of hands-on treatment outweigh the risks of coronavirus transmission.  If hands-on treatment is not the most appropriate option for you, then I will continue to offer online treatment for the foreseeable future.

So please call my team on 0207 175 0150 and book your physio appointment as usual – or to read more about the COVID-safe measures we’re taking, please click the button to continue reading.