As working from home has become the norm, we need to be aware of the changes that this can cause to our bodies. Whilst at work, many of us do incidental exercise, walking to the kitchen, bathroom, meetings or going out for lunch with colleagues, however, at home all of these trips are short and infrequent.
At the clinic, we have noticed people are also working harder and longer hours while at home as they have no transport to and from work and are now working those additional hours as well, whilst also sneaking in checking emails later on in the night.
Therefore we thought best to make a list of 5 things to be aware of when working from home.
1: Lower Body Posture at your desk:
Depending on the chair you have at home, some changes are hard to make, but creativity is key!
- From the hip to the knee, there should be approximately a 20 degree drop (so the knee is lower than the hip)
- Higher knees leads to overactive hip flexors and more pressure on the lower back
- You can change the change the seat angle by adapting your chair (if possible) or using a slope cushion on a firm chair
- After all these changes are made, make sure your feet can still go flat on the floor
2: Upper Body Posture at your desk:
A major contributor to neck pain can be your head and neck position at your desk. Throughout the day you might find your neck poking forward and you slouching. A good way to combat those changes would be:
- Sitting back in your chair so that your upper back has contact with your chair (if it has a high back)
- Tucking your chair in, that way you are closer to your screen and don’t feel the need to lean even closer in
- Bringing your screen slightly closer helps deter you from leaning further in towards it
- Remember to elongate the neck and pull the shoulders back and down
3: Locations of working from home
We have heard of some interesting locations people are working from inside their homes.
- Couch: can increase the pressure on your lower back and neck, if you don’t have any other options, put your laptop with a pillow on your lap and make sure to have frequent breaks. Also sit back in the couch and have some pillows to prop you up and support your lower back
- Dining table: make sure you have adapted the height of your screen (as your table isn’t really going up and down) by maybe propping it up with books
- Coffee table: This one would be the least recommended, it does put a lot of pressure on your neck and hips. Try different positions like kneeling, sitting cross legged, legs out in front and take breaks every 10-15 minutes.
4: Elbow and Arm Position:
- Desk at elbow height is ideal
- Make sure with the desk at elbow height, the shoulders are also dropped down and not raising up towards your ears
- Wrists should be relatively neutral or flat
5: Times to Move
It’s best to move as often as possible. If you have a sit to stand desk, mixing from sitting to standing isn’t enough movement to help decrease stiffness and pressure on the body, therefore:
- Move every 45 minutes to an hour minimum
- 2 minutes light walking every 20 minutes can help enhance cadiometabolic health*
Try and give some of these pointers a go and see if it helps with how your body feels at the end of the day! Keep moving!
*Reference: Bailey, D.P & Locke C.D 2015 “Breaking up prolonged sitting with light-intensity walking improves postprandial glycemic, but breaking up sitting with standing does not”. Journal of Science and Medicine in sport, Vol 18, no. 3, accessed 25 August 2021