Work from Home setups has been increasingly common since the start of the pandemic. However, we need to make sure we aren’t compromising our health in the process by being stationed at our PCs all day. Staying hunched over our computers all day may get our work done, but we are also seriously damaging our spine and posture.
So what can we do to prevent ruining our posture and developing spine pains and issues? Well, the good news is, there is plenty you can do. The harmful effects can be entirely prevented if we follow a few simple steps. We have consulted various experts in postures correcting, including chiropractors, doctors, fitness experts, to help us out here with their professional advice.
There are several steps we can take to ensure we maintain a good posture.
Adjust Your Computer To Keep Your Elbows At 90 Degrees, And Monitor At Direct Eye Level
“As a Chiropractor, this is a topic I’ve discussed with patients even prior to the pandemic, but it’s more important than ever! I’ve heard of some crazy at-home setups that have definitely led to spinal issues including back pain, discopathy, headaches, migraines, and muscle spasms.” says Dr. Andrea Luise. She gives us some useful advice on how to adjust our workstation for an ideal posture:
“I recommend starting with the keyboard & mouse placement. Ideally, the elbows should have a 90-degree bend, with the mouse placed adjacently to the keyboard. This allows for minimal neck and shoulder tension. Next, raise or lower the chair to accommodate the proper hand placement. If the chair is too high, you can use a small step under the desk for your feet to rest. Finally, adjust the monitor so that you’re looking straight ahead. On laptops, a common issue is that the hands and vision are too close together, causing rounding of the thoracic spine and the head drawing forward. Headaches and neck tension typically follows this setup. Instead, an inexpensive alternative, is to use a wireless keyboard and mouse and use the laptop as just the monitor. That way, you can create space between the hands and vision.”
Dr. Andrea Luise, Owns and operates her practice in Austin, TX. She is Nationally Board Certified in Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression. Lakeway Spine Center.
“One of the tricks that I often tell my patients to try for maintaining good posture throughout the day is to drink lots of water. When you sit for too long the muscles you use to maintain proper posture can become fatigued or strained, making it difficult to stay upright while working from home. A great way to combat this muscular fatigue is to take breaks throughout the work day where you are forced to get up and move. Even if it is just for a moment. Drinking ample amounts of water throughout the day means having to get up out of your chair for bathroom breaks and trips to the kitchen to refill your water bottle throughout the day. Plus you get the added bonus of staying hydrated, something most of us need to do a better job of as well.”
Dr. Seth Means, Chiropractor Okanagan Integrative Health
Sit Upright, Take Breaks to Stand and Stretch
“A quick check in on body mechanics can help posture. Joints and muscles ache with prolonged seating. This is because some muscles are overused with poor posture. Pilates teachers focus is posture for pain prevention.” Wellbeing Coach Jennifer Herrera advises these three tips for correcting your posture:
“1- Stack yourself – Sitting in front of a computer, people tend to hunch over. Start from the hips up, stack your rib cage over your hips, your shoulders over your ribs and your earlobes over your shoulders. You’ll feel your abdominal and back muscles engage. Necks often ache because leaning forward puts too much strain on the muscles. You will be sitting tall and strengthening your core. From an energetic perspective, you are aligning your chakras; the energy centers of the body.
“2- Breathe up -Take a deep inhale and lengthen your neck and head up towards the ceiling. Think about ET; the extra terrestrial, making his neck long. Hold the deep breath in a few seconds and then release. Keep your posture upright but relax the shoulders and neck muscles with the exhale. Muscles will stay engaged but not tense. Posture perfect.
“3- Stand once an hour -Take a break, stand up tall, shoulders back and down. Imagine how you would stand if you were wearing a crown on your head. Interlace your hands behind your back, to offset leaning over. Gentle head rolls to release neck muscles and Hip circles to open up the hips from sitting too long. A few minutes an hour makes a big difference. Staying upright in a seated position may feel awkward at first, but like anything else, it’s more natural with repetition. You can even set a timer for yourself as reminders until it’s second nature to sit or stand tall.”
Jennifer Herrera, WellBeing Coach, Energy Work Specialist, Reiki Master and Pilates Instructor, Sea and Stone Wellness.
Adjust your Position While you Work
“Working from home? Are your working conditions not ideal? Do you have pain from sitting too long? You’re not alone.” Licensed Massage Therapist; Sabrina Schottenhamel, recommends these 3 ways to improve your posture:
“1. Schedule in frequent breaks. 2. Adjust your workstation. 3. Be aware of your body.”
She advises planning out your day so you can plot in your breaks.“Before you begin each day, take the time to plan out your day ahead. Look at your schedule for that day; meetings, deadlines, and calls. From there decide where you can sneak in some breaks and schedule in those breaks where they fit. I recommend taking several mini breaks, these are quick 1-5 minute breaks. As a rule of thumb, remember to get up off your bum! This will help to loosen your body and therefore improve your posture. Plus these breaks sprinkled in your day will give you something to look forward to, and as a bonus, gives you clarity so you can accomplish more on a daily basis.”
Sabrina Schottenhamel further recommends adjusting your workstation: “Now, let’s make some changes to your body and your workstation. If you work with a laptop it probably means you’re looking down at the screen. Lift your whole laptop onto a box at eye level. Need to reach your keyboard? Purchase a wireless keyboard and mouse and place it at a comfortable distance in front of you. Shoulders should be relaxed and you should have a soft bend in the elbows while hands are on the keyboard. Time to check your chair. Look for support, comfort, and height; your lower back should be supported with a pillow, your legs at a 90 degree angle, and feet need to be flat on the floor. Anytime you feel sluggish, readjust your body to improve your posture.”
Sabrina Schottenhamel, licensed massage therapist and professional Self-care speaker, Be Touched Massage
“Sitting while slouching weakens the back muscle and tightens the muscles on your chest. What you should do is do corrective exercises to bring the shoulders down and strengthen the back muscles. I would recommend doing the cat-cow exercise and repeatedly doing it 15 times a day. This exercise will keep the spine moving so you won’t be stagnant all the time. You could also do shoulder w’s exercise using rubber exercise bands or chin tucks exercise to stretch the back of your neck.”
Dr. Tannaz Farnoudi, Doctor of Chiropractic from LifeClinic Chiropractic & Rehabilitation
Optimize Your Sleep Posture
“The easiest way to help your daytime posture (and the back pain that it causes) is to optimise your sleep posture. Sleep posture is likely not a concept you’ve heard of before, but simply put it’s just the position of your body at night. If you position yourself in the correct position and enable your spine to be neutral, your muscles will be able to recover and your spine will be able to rest as you sleep. You can achieve good sleep posture by choosing a pillow with the correct pressure relieving properties that fills the space between your head and the mattress perfectly. I’d recommend sleeping in a side lying position, with another pillow between your legs. This will enable you to wake up rested and pain free.”
James Leinhardt, Sleep Posture Expert / Founder Levitex and working with a Pain Consultant MD for a Medical Director