Simple Ways to Improve Posture while Working from Home
Amanda Harris MCSP, physiotherapist from The Physio Company, shares with us simple ways to improve posture while working from home
Working from home has certainly had it’s positives – more time with the family, less money spent on commuting and the chance to watch your favourite Netflix show in the comfort of your own home at lunch. However, many of us were unprepared for working from home for such a long time and as such are paying the price with constant sore backs, wrist injuries and problems caused by sitting at kitchen tables and inadequate chairs.
In fact, according to research, poor posture and keyboard work is one of the most common causes of injuries and lost working days. Although we typically associate these disorders with the back, people are more likely to suffer with their upper limbs or neck (37% and 44%) and with 19% it’s lower limbs.
So, here are my top pieces of advice on improving posture while working from home:
When you’re working at a table, raise the height of your chair so that your elbows are at right angles and your forearms are parallel with the desk or table. If your chair isn’t adjustable in height, try sitting on a cushion. However, if you work for an employer, speak to your HR department about buying a proper desk chair that is height adjustable, it will make a whole word of difference, particularly if you’re going to be working from home regularly for the foreseeable future
Rest your feet
Once you’re sitting at the right height, make sure your feet are fully supported on the floor. If they aren’t, put them on a cushion so that your hips are slightly higher or level with your knees. This helps to put your back in a comfortable position.
Support your back
Once you’re in a firm chair, sit back to support your spine. If your lower back needs more support, place a rolled-up towel in the small of your back.
Position your screen
When you’re on the computer, adjust the height of the screen so that your eyes are level with the top of the display so you’re not looking down, ensuring the screen is roughly an arm’s length away. If you use a laptop or tablet, raise it on a stand or a pile of books and use a separate keyboard and mouse.
Position your keyboard and mouse close to you to prevent stretching and straining the neck and shoulders
If you use a notepad try to keep this to the side of the keyboard instead of in front of it so that you don’t need to stretch over the notepad to reach the keyboard.
Try to avoid gripping the mouse just hold it lightly to avoid muscle strain in the hand and wrist.
If you are working on a smaller screen than usual make sure that you adjust the font size for comfortable reading. If you have difficulty seeing the text this can alter your neck posture as you lean in to read the text which may lead to neck strain as well as eye strain.
Reduce eye fatigue
Just like any other muscle in the body, the eye muscles get tired when looking at the screen for too long. Try the 20-20-20 rule where every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away (about 6 metres) for 20 seconds. This stops the eye muscles from getting overworked.
Introduce more telephone calls instead of Zoom meetings with colleagues and clients
This means that you can get up and move around when on the call. Wearing ear phones will help to reduce neck and arm strain from holding the ‘phone.
Get up and move
Try to make sure you get up and move regularly for a least 10 minutes once an hour. After spending a long time sitting, it’s good to stand up and stretch your back. Place your hands on your bottom and lean back as far as is comfortable, then return to neutral. Repeat six times. To release neck and shoulder tension, shrug your shoulders as high as you can towards your ears and then let go. Repeat six times.
At lunchtimes or after work try to walk or do your favourite sport to maintain or improve your overall fitness, joint mobility and muscle strength.