I know that there are a lot of you who are working from home or perhaps other spaces at the moment, and may not have the full set up that you’re used to. Many of you have adapted dining tables and home work stations; you might even be working off the sofa (though you know that’s not ideal, right?). I’ve heard a lot about sore backs and necks recently and holding tension in shoulders. There is a another blog post where we talked about managing tension, and how to check for it, which you can find here. Today I want to try and pass on some tips to prevent tension, stiffness and pain occurring in the first place.
Setting up a workstation is more complex than you think. Considerations around desk height, wrist angle, line of vision, arm placement, leg position and back support all come into play. An ideal position includes thighs level with the floor and elbows resting into the sides with the hands lightly dropping onto the keyboard in a slightly flexed position. Shoulders should be relaxed to achieve this, and if the feet don’t reach flat to the floor, a foot stool will be needed. The top of the computer screen should be level with the eyes which maintains a neutral neck, and prevents rounding of the shoulders which can lead to headaches and back ache. If you’re working from a makeshift desk, or as most of us are at the moment, a laptop, consider how you could optimise your posture so that you’re not getting an achey neck or back
- Is the chair you’re sitting in supportive enough? Dining chairs are far better than sitting on the sofa!
- If you’re on a laptop, have you considered plugging in a separate keyboard so that you can raise the screen to the optimal eye level height? (I have mine sitting on a couple of our purple yoga blocks!)
- Can you boost your bottom if you’re too low by sitting on a cushion?
- Can you put your feet onto a kids footstool or some stacked magazines, or a box to improve your leg angle?
In the short video below I talk through ideal sitting posture, and how this will prevent developing common neck and back aches and pains, and overall sustain a better posture; the knock on effects of which include better breathing and better digestion
Preventing sitting fatigue
Most importantly, remember to keep taking regular breaks; whether it’s work, reading, craft or just browsing on a PC. It’s really easy for time to run away from us, but there are knock on effects from sitting in a static posture for too long, including stiffness, pain, tension and even deteriorating eyesight (I have the latter on good authority from my optician!), so make sure you’re changing position at least every 60 minutes; 30-45 would be even better.
Our bodies aren’t meant to sustain prolonged positions, and it’s true that movement is medicine. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to move if you don’t have a watch that alerts you. It can be as simple as standing up and walking around your chair to ‘wake up’ your body. This can boost your muscle tone and improve your posture, as well as your concentration.