Feeling Stiff? Relieve Your Back Pain with These Easy, Affordable At-Home Solutions
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.
Not feeling super flexible or active? No worries. There are also some tried and true methods of relief that require very little physical activity, including handheld massagers, like this Conair Touch N Tone Massager. If you’ve ever walked into a Brookstone, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by the amount of massagers on the market, but we like this one for several reasons: It’s easy to use, extremely affordable and smooth enough that it can be used on various parts of your body. The only drawback? It could use a little more power for working out the worst knots, but it’s hard to argue with the price point if you’re looking for some quick pain relief throughout the day.
If you’d rather ease your aches and pains after work, nothing beats the Conair Moist-Dry Heating Pad. Heat therapy is one of the best ways to mitigate back pain. It boosts circulation, which means nutrients can zip on over to your joints and muscles, in turn relieving inflammation and repairing damage. If you’ve ever gotten a stiff neck on an airplane, you’re probably familiar with the wonders a little heat can provide.
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.
There are only so many comfortable positions when it comes to lounging around in bed or on the couch. Looking for a way to sit more comfortably and improve your posture? Forget stacking a bunch of pillows behind you and opt for the Ziraki Reading Pillow instead. Whether you’re watching TV, working on your laptop or reading a book, a backrest like this one can make resting feel, well, restful again.
Still feeling rough at the end of the day? You might want to try CBD Gummies before bed. These are derived from all-natural hemp grown in the U.S., which means they’re THC-free. CbdMD suggests getting into a routine, and because these won’t make you too drowsy, they recommend chewing one in the morning and one at night for optimal, full-day relief. If you’re new to trying out the healing benefits of CBD, you should know that it works wonders, not just for aches, pains and stiffness, but also for managing stress and enhancing exercise recovery.
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.
Unlike a traditional foam roller, however, this one knows just how to treat various post-workout pains. It boasts Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to pair it with your smart device and adjust the levels of its five intensity settings via the Therabody app to give you a perfectly tailored warmup and a deep recovery period. Don't keep your phone on hand while you're treating your aches and pains? You can still adjust the Wave Roller manually using the buttons on the end. Something even more novel is that the vibrating foam roller is capable of charging wirelessly, which is convenient if you happen to run the battery down during a treatment session.
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.
Best of all, this one delivers the renowned Theragun deep-muscle treatment, all while being ultra-portable: It fits in the palm of your hand, weighs just over 1 pound, features an ergonomic grip that makes it easy to soothe hard-to-reach places and provides more than two hours of relief on a single charge. With almost 200 reviews to its name, this Theragun product has a near-five-star rating — and you can’t argue with that.
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.
While there are plenty of great office chairs to choose from, we recommend the Black Mesh High Back Adjustable Recliner Ergonomic Executive Office Chair with Lumbar Support by Boyel Living. This easy-to-assemble swivel chair is all about the lumbar support — in fact, even the seat cushion has been designed to reduce the pressure and pain put on your lower back. It can also be "customized," in a sense, to suit your needs and features a 90-135 degree adjustable backrest and a 16-20 inch adjustable seat height. In short, it’s ideal for a long day at the home office.
Looking to spend a little less? Try modifying your current office chair with Mind Reader’s Black Vertical Backrest. This one-size-fits-all, posture-correcting pillow cushion will help support your back, provide relief and help you correct your bad sitting habits — all at a very low cost.
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.
Want to help more than just your back? The CirQlation figure-eight tech kneads your calves in a wave-like motion, meaning improved circulation even while your legs are up on the chair’s retractable ottoman. Customization is king here. The massage chair features three automatic massage programs, including full, upper and lower body routines that are designed to promote deep healing, not just provide temporary relief. Reviewers also appreciate the look of the chair, saying it isn’t as bulky as traditional massage chairs. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to live life to the fullest — and most relaxed.