Starting and growing a small business from home requires exceptional energy and focus to work, both of which are drained when back, neck and shoulder problems set in.

But these problems are becoming achingly familiar as people begin entrepreneurial ventures from their houses, or close their outside offices and move their work back into a home office, bedroom or basement.

As a chiropractor, I’m seeing this every day. Since COVID-19 began, at least 50 percent of my patients are reporting new or worsening pain stemming from at-home work.

How does that compare with what’s happening nationally? A recent Lenovo study of more than 20,000 employees sheds some light: 71 percent of respondents are experiencing new or worsening pains due to their work from home (WFH) set-up.

Back to Business, Back to Productivity

These statistics have health as well as business implications:

One of the most frequent reasons people miss work is the back pain they’re experiencing.

Although back pain is usually temporary, some people experience it consistently and are even disabled by it.

Moreover, business owners who begin a venture with bad sitting habits or the wrong furniture for their bodies risk exacerbating problems over time. That’s because we entrepreneurs are legendary for the long hours we put in on a consistent basis. Even when it’s a labor of love, we can become so singularly focused that sunrise turns to sunset, and then to midnight, before we raise ourselves from our desks.

Tabling Unhealthy Habits

So how should those desks—and chairs—be configured to keep us sharp and productive? How often should we be prying ourselves loose, and what should we be doing when we actually break? Following are some guidelines:

Back to basics: The “classic” guidelines you’ve heard before still hold true; sit in an upright, supportive office chair that presses a little against your lower back. If you’re pushed forward just slightly, that’s even better.

Don’t hunch; make sure your eyes are even with the upper third of your monitor or PC. Raise your PC with a laptop stand or use a loose leaf binder (the bigger the rings, the higher the monitor will be).

Finally, keep your elbows close to 90 degrees and your wrists neutral.

Life is motion: Does your office contain a standing desk? If so, remember the rules about hand/wrist position and monitor height, and plan for frequent breaks. A study reported in Ergonomics revealed that standing at one of these desks for two hours was associated with muscle fatigue, swelling of the lower limbs and worsening cognitive function. It’s no surprise; our bodies are built to move, and I recommend that standing desk aficionados (and those at conventional desks) walk away every 20 minutes for two- to five-minute exercise/stretch breaks. If you’re on a deadline and can’t be quite so regimented, at least alternate standing and sitting.

Activate your health. Studies suggest that being sedentary may up your risk of cardiovascular disease—but there are ways to sit and move at the same time (a.k.a. active sitting). Exercise balls have become popular for this purpose over the years, and other forms of active sitting are also gaining traction—including chairs on wheels with small backs and a rocking seat. These activate the core muscles, as well as the leg muscles, to keep them in place.

Comfort and cushion yourself. Are you starting a business while your office furniture is on back order? Foster healthy habits wherever you’re set up. If you’re using kitchen or dining room chairs, support your lower back with the right sized pillows. If you’re working from the couch—which I do not recommend—put a pillow behind your lower back, and a second on your legs to bring your laptop to an optimum height.

What about those texts? Are you a pacer who consistently checks texts when you’re up? Join the club…and watch out for text neck. Remember that your head weighs about 10 pounds, and if you let your neck flex forward too far while texting, you could put as much as 60 pounds of stress on it. Keep that phone close to eye level to avoid neck pain and even permanently rounded shoulders.

Tap into these healthier habits—and your business will be positioned to stand straight and tall.

Dr. Bradley (Brad) Weiss is a chiropractor and founder of Performance Health Center, Natick, Mass. He has been a chiropractor for 36 years and works with executives, small business owners, athletes, and musicians. More complimentary work-from-home tips are available at his website, and he can be contacted at or

Exercise at work stock photo by LightField Studios/Shutterstock