Posture: How to Be Healthy While Working From Home
By Sara Butler
The droves of people who began working from home due to changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic at first did so in a state of shock. But once the newness wore off and the reality of working from home set in, many people decided that, despite the Zoom mishaps, working from home in your sweats all day actually wasn’t that bad of a gig. Well, until the neck, back, and shoulder pain set in.
The reality is that there are many advantages to working from home -- and, according to Gallup, more than half of America’s workforce was working from home at the pandemic’s height with some companies planning to continue once there was a return to some level of normalcy. But there are many ways you must be more diligent in treating your body while taking care of business from the comfort of your residence.
The chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic don’t want you to give up your sweats, but they do want you to understand how working from home is very different from working at an office when it comes to your spine health as well as your posture.
The Biggest Concerns
There are a variety of issues that working from home can present, such as isolation and overeating, but the biggest for your own health and well-being is how poor ergonomics and posture can impact you.
Working from home can create musculoskeletal disorders that can reduce your productivity and impact your quality of life. The most common MSDs for those working from home include:
- Back pain
- Muscle strains, tears, and sprains
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Preventing MSDs from occurring should be top of mind for everyone. Luckily, these issues are preventable as long as you set up your home workspace with your health and posture in mind.
How’s Your Posture?
On average, employees who work from home sit at their desks for about nine hours per day. The long periods of sitting at a desk with poor posture without proper breaks are one of the biggest flubs made by the home workforce.
You can assess how you’re sitting at your desk by thinking about the basics of ergonomics, also referred to as “NEW,” an acronym for:
- Neutral posture - This is the posture you sit in while performing your duties at your desk. A neutral posture means that you’re sitting with your neck straight, your shoulders loose and directly under your ears, your elbows, hips, and knees at a 90-degree angle, and your feet flat on the floor.
- Eye and elbow height - When you’re standing or seated, your keyboard, as well as your mouse, should be at elbow level. Your monitor should be positioned either right at eye level or very slightly below it. The goal is that you shouldn’t be looking down, even slightly, to comfortably look at your computer screen.
- Work area - Anything that is used regularly as you work should be easily within arm’s reach. You should never have to strain or stretch to reach something you use often.
A Few Ergonomic Basics
To keep your body and spine healthy, you should adhere to the NEW principles and follow a few other very basic ergonomic tips while working from home:
- Have a dedicated workspace and never work from your couch.
- Invest in a good chair that allows you to adjust your height in a way that keeps your thighs parallel with the floor. If your feet don’t touch the floor, then get a footrest.
- Support your lower back with either a lumbar pillow or rolled-up towel or by using the adjustable back of your chair.
- Make sure your wrists are in line with the arms when using the keyboard and your wrists are flat against it.
- Keep your elbows as close as you can to your sides and ensure that most of the weight of your arms is supported by the arms of the chair.
- Avoid hunching or slumping the shoulders forward.
- Take frequent breaks, at least once per hour. It may be helpful to set a reminder on your phone or computer. Stretch and move during these short breaks.
How Chiropractic Can Help
If you find yourself suffering from a few side effects of working from home, then come into The Joint Chiropractic today for an evaluation. The chiropractors can assess you to find any joint dysfunctions that may be occurring and address them to get your body working as it was made to. They can also help you to access the ergonomic setup of your home office and make suggestions to help get you back on track and reduce your chance of injury.
You may be surprised how much you enjoy working from home, but don’t forget that there are dangers you must navigate that have nothing to do with the stretchy pants you’ve been wearing for 16 days straight. If you are facing the physical and emotional challenges working from home can bring, then head to The Joint Chiropractic today.
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