Being in your own house may seem way more comfy than working from the office. But, unless you’re taking some of the work-from-home posture advice out there, you may be feeling the opposite is true. As a chiropractor who is seeing more patients with postural changes during COVID than before, here are my top tips for how to sit and feel your best.
My top work-from-home posture advice to avoid and prevent back and neck pain
If you have an actual desk and space to work, consider yourself off to a good start. Have your work spread across the dining or kitchen table? We’re all making do right now. But keep in mind: spending 8 to 10 hours a day in these types of chairs can become a problem because they aren’t adjustable to your body. But even if your work space isn’t ideal or is temporary (or you’re bent forward helping your kids!), adjustments to your work-from-home posture will help you avoid related stiffness and pain.
1. If you’re able and are working from home for the long haul, invest in a good chair
For any patients working from home for the foreseeable future, I suggest an office chair. Once you get that chair and set it up, make sure the height is set so your feet are planted on the ground, while your upper body is in a neutral position. You can set the seat of the chair so it’s level or let it tilt just slightly forward. You want your knees to be just slightly lower than your pelvis.
2. Keep your laptop or computer screen at eye level
This is a big one. Most people’s laptop’s or computers sit too low for them to maintain good neck posture. The middle of your screen should be right at eye level. Most of us are looking down to some degree. Grab something to lift your computer a bit. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A few books or boxes go a long way.
3. Get a detachable keyboard and mouse
With the computer screen lifted to eye level, especially with laptops, you want to still maintain good upright posture and not place any additional stress to your arms and wrists. Using a detachable keyboard and mouse helps to keep the elbows at ninety degrees. Wrists should be in neutral without exaggerating the natural bend in the wrists.
4. Don’t lean too far forward in your chair or scoot your bottom all the way to the back
Everyone loves to reach for lumbar support. And that’s fine. But sitting correctly will do more good for pain than any extra low-back cushion. For many of us, default sit-mode is to tuck our tailbone under when we’re spending a lot of time in a chair. Instead, make an effort to sit on your ischial tuberosities, or sit bones, when you’re seated and working. To do this, scoot all the way forward or all the way back in your chair. All three natural curvatures of your spine should be noticeable when sitting correctly.
5. Don’t try to lean forward onto the desk or table and type
If you’re leaning forward on a video call, that may not be an issue. But try not to lean forward while using your mouse or typing. This can place extra pressure on the back and neck.
6. Put your feet flat on the floor
For many of us, our go-to move when sitting in a chair is to cross our ankles or legs. But that also compresses the spine and distributes weight unevenly across the hips and pelvis. Instead, try to place your feet flat on the floor. Or, use a foot rest. Just remember to keep your knees at 90 degrees to your hips.
Why you should perfect your sitting posture
Work-from-home posture, in my advice, is something worth working on and paying attention to. Bad posture puts extra stress on joints, ligaments, and muscles. As a result, you could start experiencing soreness, tenderness, tightness, stiffness, or pain. This is just amplified for patients who are already dealing with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, or any condition that causes musculoskeletal pain, such as cancer, arthritis, or osteoporosis.
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