Working from home
Hints And Tips To Improve Your Posture
By Sophie Parkes - The Body Advocate
Working from home has become an everyday phrase in our lives.
Since Covid 19, many have moved into their homes to work remotely, and are working from dining chairs, deck chairs, in the kitchen – even from their beds – which is not really conducive to mental health but also physical health and posture.
It’s understandable. Not everyone has the luxury of a home office; some people are living in 1-2 bedroom flats and some have children clamouring for space, which means that not everyone can get the whole ergonomic chair and desk experience that are body so greatly needs.
Here is my advice on how to make the best of a slightly unique situation!
Make sure your chair (whatever it looks like!) is as comfortable as possible. Ideally, you want your bottom needs to be aligned with the back of the chair and you are not perching. Your feet must be on the floor and your hips should be above your knees – so no chairs where you are leaning back. If your feet don’t touch the ground, you can also put them on a stool or a block to straighten your posture.
You can have a small cushion or pillow to support your lordosis in the lower back curve, which will allow you to straighten your spine and support with chairs that do not have a straight back.
Your chair should be tucked into your desk to avoid you leaning forward or backwards to be able to work.
Your Desktop Set Up
Your keyboard should be equal to your arms; your arms should not be leaning up or down as this can have an impact on the upper body muscles.
Your monitor should be eye height, which is harder to manage when you have laptops and you are forced to look down, but the best way is to ensure it is straight at eye level so that you don’t hunch down.
Also try to make sure your monitor isn’t on the side and needs to be directly in front of you, as unnecessarily twisting can cause damage in your neck and back muscles.
If you’re working for a company, you can request office chairs that help you with your posture, especially those who need to support their elbows but are freewheeling it at the moment (dining chairs are not the best for it!). You should also be able to request a stand where you can place your laptop, which can support with keeping your monitor at eye level; you can also request a separate monitor that extends your laptop display.
If you’re self-employed and are able to squeeze in a nice office chair somewhere, please do so. It can give necessary support to your back and your shoulder muscles and can also help you be more productive as you are not straining against your own body to work.
Your Mental Health
One thing that I’m finding with my clients and even friends and family is that people are really struggling with work/life balance. Most of us have incorporated our working from home spaces within living rooms, kitchens or dining tables, which means that there don’t seem to be clear boundaries on working hours and family hours, where previously those would have been separated by spending time at the office and spending time at home.
Set a structure to your day and then switch off! Be selfish about it, otherwise it can feel like work and life are all blurring into one and it is not good for your mental and physical health.
Take regular breaks and draw a line in the sand of when you will stop work and when you will start. Keep a clear routine where possible as this will help you compartmentalise when to focus on work and when to focus on your personal life.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Given that water is vital for the functioning of every other part of the body, it is no surprise that the brain also requires sufficient hydration to perform properly.
Water is essential in delivering blood, nutrients and oxygen to the brain – all of which are needed for brain cells to function. Not only this, but water also helps rid brain cells of damaging toxins.
Dehydration means that brain cells do not receive what they need to operate properly. In the long term, prolonged dehydration can lead to brain cells physically shrinking, causing premature ageing of the brain and leading to lack of productivity and creativity. As the brain has no way of storing water, it is even more important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Tea and coffee may count towards hydration, but it is recommended that we drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to stay healthily hydrated.
If you’re struggling with back ache or limited mobility in your neck and shoulders due to your working from home conditions, contact me and I can book you in for a session at my clinic and get you moving again!