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Two-thirds of young adults have ‘work-from-home back’: study

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If you’ve been having more back problems since working from home, you’re not alone.

A new poll conducted by the British self-care campaign Mind Your Back has discovered a new phenomenon among young adults: WFH back.

The survey of 1,000 adults across the United Kingdom aimed to see how the COVID-19 pandemic changed daily habits and found a rising number — two-thirds — of Brits aged 18 to 29 experienced back pain they didn’t have prior to the pandemic.

A majority of the respondents (63.7%) admitted they have newfound back issues since working from home. Thirty-two percent of respondents felt the most aches in their lower back, which is often caused by bad posture.

Back pain inevitably causes discomfort, and some said their pain was so bad they couldn’t even sleep (24.3%). About a fifth said they couldn’t exercise anymore, 8.3% confessed it stopped them from working and 6.3% said their aches prevented them from participating in their usual hobbies.

Six in 10 people that partook in the poll said they worked remotely for a majority of the pandemic — 39% said they worked entirely from home, while 24.8% said they worked remotely part time.

The work-from-home environment meant people didn’t have the proper ergonomic setup for sitting at a computer for an eight-hour workday. Most modern office chairs are specially designed to keep people sitting with a proper posture: a straight back to take pressure off the base of the spine.

Despite working from the comfort of their own homes, many weren’t even using a chair. More than one in five young adults admit they work from bed when they’re remote — the most common place to work from home. According to the survey, one in six sit on the couch and about one in 100 do their work from the floor.

In fact, a lot of remote workers don’t have access to a proper workspace, the findings showed.

“Almost half [of home workers] don’t have constant access to a table and supportive chair during their working day,” general practitioner and Mind Your Back adviser Dr. Gill Jenkins said. “Unfortunately, 20% have to work while sitting on a sofa or bed. This plays absolute havoc with posture and spine health.”

Only 20% of respondents said they work from a dedicated office space, which was the second most common place to WFH. Working from a kitchen table was the third most common, with 19.6% saying that’s where they choose to work. Working from the couch (16.9%) and using a small table (14.9%) followed.

Even now that COVID restrictions have eased, working from home is still a big part of culture, with many companies choosing to keep workers remote to save money on bills and many workers getting used to the new standards.

The work-from-home environment meant people didn’t have the proper ergonomic tools for sitting at a computer for an eight-hour workday.
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With many still continuing to work from home, it’s important that people invest in ways to keep their backs from enduring even more pain, Jenkins noted.

“Caring for our backs can reduce stress and boost energy so we can live our lives to the full, without pains and aches holding us back,” Jenkins said.

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