The Emergence of Low Back Pain during WFH in Times of The New Norm

The Emergence of Low Back Pain during WFH in Times of The New Norm


by Ajrina Rarasrum, dr.


  • Faculty of Medicine, University of Gadjah Mada (2013-2016)

Working Experiences:

  • Internship doctor (2019-2020)
  • RS Bhayangkara POLDA DIY.
  • Research Assistant (2019-now)
  • Centre for Reproductive Health, Gadjah Mada University


  • Local Public Health Officer CIMSA UGM (2014-2015)
  • National Public Health Officer CIMSA Indonesia (2015-2016)
  • Executive Observer and Supervisor SCOPH CIMSA Indonesia (2016-2017)


  Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common health problems worldwide. The prevalence of low back pain in the community is from 1,4% to 20%.  It is estimated that 15% to 20% of adults have back pain during a single year and 50% to 80% of these populations experience at least one episode of back pain during their lifetime. The prevalence of low back pain is increasing with age. Low back pain is also one of the causes of disability especially among the adult working population and the pain caused by low back pain decreases productivity. 

There is virtually no agreement among researchers regarding the definition of LBP, but we can categorize it as acute or chronic based on how long it lasts. The most common cause of LBP is mechanical in nature which means there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move, for example, sprains, arthritis, osteoporosis, and pregnancy. The risk factors of LBP include age, weight gain, fitness level, job-related factor, mental health factor, genetic, and smoking. 

As we strive to survive in the middle of this pandemic, most offices and schools recommended their workers and students to stay at home to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Most of our home setting doesn’t accommodate an ergonomic design for maintaining good posture while working or studying at home. An ergonomic related injury such as muscle sprain leads to different ranges of disorders, from low back pain to computer vision syndrome. 

You don’t need to buy new stuff or redesign your space just to prevent this back pain. What you need to do is to adjust it and here’s five strategies to help with low back pain during working or studying from home.

First, you have to pick a chair that has height adjustment to facilitate good posture. This chair should support the lower back. If you don’t have a height-adjusted chair, use a cushion, and don’t forget to maintain the position of knees, elbow, and feet on the most natural position to avoid muscle sprain.

The next thing that you can do is to keep your laptop on the eye level. You can use a shoebox or anything stable to provide this setting. Don’t look down on the screen and don’t set the angle of your screen which forces you to twist your neck. 

Moving your body every 30-45 minutes is the next option. You can move around, stretch, and change position. These movements will shift the strain between intervertebral discs.

Another thing you could do is to limit the time to do your job on the bed.  If you lie down, you can’t achieve the optimal position for screen viewing. Crossing your legs or extending them horizontally will cause muscle sprain because your feet are going on too long.

The last one is to simply exercise. Doing exercise will strengthen your muscle especially with core workout and bodyweight exercise. The principle is that the more you put yourself in a neutral position, the less likely it will cause an injury.



  1. Fatoye, Francis. 2019. Real-world incidence and prevalence of low back pain using routinely collected data. Rheumatology International (2019) 39:619–626

  2. Rubin, Devon.2007. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain.Elsevier.

  3. Parletta, Natalie .Home office ergonomics: how to work from home without breaking your back.2020. The Guardian. Accessed on 23rd September 2020 at 09:54.

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