With so many of us working from home it’s important to have a good set-up to prevent aches and pains and encourage productivity. This may be your set-up for months, so it’s worth spending the time to make sure that it’s comfortable. Here are some tips for your home workspace and a couple of exercises that you can do throughout the day to improve your posture and prevent neck, shoulder and back pain.
The Right Work Set Up
Most people will be working at a laptop so ensure that your laptop is as close to eye level as possible so that you don’t have to look down. If you tilt your screen up a little bit this will help prevent you from looking down as much. Your forearms should also be resting on your table or desk to avoid hunching your shoulders. Keep everything that you need for your work like notepads, pens etc. within arms lengths to avoid too much twisting and reaching.
Lighting matters. Try and be as close as possible to natural light and have the area sufficiently bright. This will help prevent your eyes from getting tired and causing you to slowly slouch forward closer to the computer.
Picking a Chair
If you have a desk to work from that’s ideal – but a dining table will work perfectly fine. Just avoid working from coffee tables, counters and bars as these setups won’t allow for you to work with good posture. Your feet should be able to rest comfortably on the floor. If they don’t reach the floor you may want a different chair or you’ll need to use a foot rest.
When picking a chair – pick a a firm chair with a high back. Typically dining chairs work best for working from home. Highly cushioned chairs and sofas are not recommended as they will encourage slouching. And definitely, no working from your bed! There is no way to work from your bed ergonomically.
Taking Phone Calls
When it comes to phone calls, try using a headset or earphones so that you are not straining your neck or having to hold up the phone which can lead to neck and shoulder pain. Since too much time spent sitting can wreak havoc on your body, try taking calls while walking around your home. Headphones are also helpful for Zoom meetings so that you can hear the other participants without inching closer towards your laptop.
The Best Way to Sit
The way you sit may be the most important thing you do each day to prevent back pain. When you sit correctly you avoid putting pressure on your spine. To sit correctly – envision that you have a tail and then squat sticking your glutes out to avoid sitting on your imagined tail. This sets a great foundation for alignment and you will be less likely to suffer form back pain regardless of how much time you spend sitting if you sit correctly.
3 Stretches to Relieve Back Pain
Doing stretches throughout the day will help you feel better, be more productive and encourage good posture.
Interlock your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight while pulling your hands down towards to ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds while keeping your body in an upright position. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day – ideally every time you get up from a seated position.
What it does: By releasing tight pectoral muscles, the shoulders will visibly drop and move backward, combating the rounded hunch effect that can be caused by too much time spent sitting.
Stand or sit in a chair and clasp both hands behind your head. Gently arch backward, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.
What it does: This reduces hunching in the middle back, opens up the chest and prevents back pain.
Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your hands behind your hips for support. Look up to the ceiling and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly and gently bend backwards to the point where you can maintain your balance. Take a few breaths while you’re in the back bend, then slowly come back up to standing. As you feel more comfortable with this exercise you can bring your arms overhead while you bend.
What it does: This is an ideal exercise to do every time you get up from a sitting position. It takes pressure off your spine, which reduces lower pack pain, while looking up to the ceiling corrects misaligned forward head posture too, preventing neck pain and headaches.