Ideally, we should be sitting with our knees, hips and elbows at 90 degree angles with our spine in a neutral position and our shoulder blades set gently back and down away from our ears. Our feet should be comfortably on the floor. The keyboard should be positioned at elbow height so we can comfortably type with elbows at 90 degrees and neutral wrists. The screen should be at eye height so we are looking ahead and not down.
A great deal of people are working on laptops on kitchen chairs which often means looking down at screens with shoulders rounded and chins poking forwards. This posture tends to shorten the muscles at the front of the neck and put strain on the muscles around the lower back and pelvis. Working like this for prolonged periods can and often will lead to back and neck pain. See below for some top tips for working from home in comfort.
1. Break up the day with movement
In our usual daily lives we are active... walking to and from stations, meetings, lunches, school runs. Even leaving the desk to chat to colleagues breaks up the day. Set a timer and MOVE (aim for five minutes every hour). Even if it is a lap around the living room or a run up and down the stairs, this encourages you to move your body and 'listen out' for any postural aches and pains that may be setting in.
2. Support your lower back
Put a cushion or rolled towel in the small of your back to mirror the lumbar support most office chairs will provide. This discourages a slumped back position where the lower back is rounded and alleviates strain on the lumbar region.
3. Place a support under your feet
If the chair you are sitting on doesn't allow your feet to comfortably reach the floor then pop a book or box under your feet so your knees and hips sit comfortably at 90 degrees. This will encourage a neutral pelvis and spine position.
4. Elevate your screen
To take the strain off your neck, have your laptop propped up on books or a box so the screen is at eye height then plug in an external keyboard so you can type with your elbows and shoulders in a comfortable position as above. Alternatively a laptop raise works well.
5. Don't stick with one home office set up
If you have done all of the above and remain uncomfortable then I recommend changing where you are working throughout the day. Vary between the kitchen table, the sofa, the coffee table and even create your own standing workstation using a mantle piece or kitchen work top as your standing desk. Variation will help stop postural habits setting in and muscle imbalances exacerbating.
6. Make exercise part of your daily routine
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Look after yourself. Keep moving. Stay safe. Stay well.