Barrow Voice

  The Coronavirus Issue      First Publised 1975


Special Issue 160 Summer 2020

Is your kitchen table a pain in the neck?

Thanks to Covid 19, many of us are working from home now – me too! But how many of us are actually set up for it properly? As a physio, I can tell you not many! On 23rd March, we all went into lockdown and for many of us our well-appointed, ergonomically-designed work space in our office became a distant memory.

The stark reality is that most of us are now working from our kitchen tables, hunched over a laptop squeezed between the laundry and the kids’ history homework project. It’s far from perfect and, coupled with an unmitigated amount of stress, we’re finding, for many, it’s leading to real problems with upper back, neck and shoulder pain. I’ve certainly seen a rise in people contacting me for these problems during lockdown. The good news is that, unlike Covid 19, this IS a problem that can be helped massively by a few simple actions to do with our environment and our behaviours.

  1. Take regular breaks – our bodies don't do well when we’re stuck in any one position for too long, even if it’s a “good”' position. You’re probably turning the engine over on your car to stop it seizing up – try to do the same with your body too. Permission to fidget is granted! Stand up, pop the kettle on, take your tea break in the garden, walk the dog, pop a load of washing in (my personal favourite, as I know it will give me a break in 40 minutes when it needs taking out to dry).
  2. Create a work station – a tricky one as you may not have the space, but do try even if it’s just the kitchen table. Avoid the temptation of sofa-surfing, with laptop on your knees. Your back and neck will thank you for it. The simple act of sitting at our desks also “cues” us into work mode and, much more importantly, allows us to switch off from work at the end of the session. So important at the moment to keep those home / work lines from getting blurred.
  3. Get the right kit for the job – it currently looks like this working-from-home lark could be the “new normal” for many of us for a while yet, so it makes sense to invest in some simple pieces of equipment to make your life easier – you wouldn’t run a marathon in the shoes you pop to the shops wearing! Invest in some simple pieces of equipment to make your life easier and help take the strain. A good supportive office chair can make the world of difference to your sitting posture. If you are working from a laptop, then maybe consider a riser to help lift the screen to eye level and a blue-tooth keyboard.
  4. 4 Maintain a “good” posture – the head is key to an efficient posture. Get it neatly balanced on your neck then the rest of your body will follow suit. Imagine the crown of your head has a balloon attached to it pulling up towards the ceiling, making your neck long.

If you need any further advice or a Remote Video Physio appointment, contact us on 0116 367 6472 or We have a fantastic video exercise programme that we can email to you, and with the wonders of technology we can actually see your work space at home. This allows us to set you up on the right track. Stay well and stay safe. From Annie and the Natural Elements team.

Annie Rea
Chartered Physiotherapist at Natural Elements in Barrow.

Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association.(BUSCA).  --   Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.   --   Barrow Community Association is a registered Charity No: 1156170.