There was a time when we all enjoyed that day or two working from home. It was a change of pace, no rush of getting ready and of course the luxury of being at home and working while sitting on your couch. Such a privilege it felt back then.
Sure enough, those times have changed. Working from home is now accompanied by “working at home” as well. We are expected to be completely involved with work, although now we are also trying to accomplish cooking, cleaning, washing and all other thousand chores which in the past, we had an additional helping hand.
With a change in lifestyle and a change in our working environment, our physical activities and posture habits are also affected. Positions we take while sitting at home with our laptop, working in the kitchens, tidying up our homes etc. may lead to back or neck pain because of the added strains on the musculoskeletal system (the bone and muscle component of our body).
In this time of COVID-19 Crisis we may not be able to change the above scenarios for now but we can certainly make our postures better and distrain our musculoskeletal system, making our “Stay at Home” more comfortable.
Dr. Abinas Sudan, US Physical Therapy Board Certified Physiotherapist , Director, WellSpine Clinic, along with Nth Sense shares some posture tips for your back and neck and a list of simple exercises for a healthy spine.
Posture tips for healthy back and neck:
1. While sitting, refrain from sitting on soft chairs, mattress or bed. Using a firm chair/surface to sit is better for your back.
2. Sit with your bottom tucked all the back towards the end of the chair, so that the lower part of your back to all the way up your neck is well aligned.
3. Use a rolled-up towel behind your back so you don’t end up slouching. Put the rolled-up towel over the curve of your lower back while sitting.
4. While working, adjust your chair height and workstation so that you can sit up close to your screen or work station and tilt it up toward you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
5. While using a chair make sure that your legs are not hanging. Your feet must completely touch the floor. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them even with or slightly higher than your hips. Use a foot rest or stool if necessary. Avoid crossing your legs
6. While using a rotating chair, use your legs instead of your waist to move it.
7. When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends
8. While standing, distribute the body weight evenly on both feet. Stand with your feet, about shoulder width apart. It helps distribute weight evenly over the legs and not put strain in the back.
9. Also if you need to spend long hours standing like at the kitchen counter use a small step stool under one of your feet that’ll help you not to slouch over the counter over time and put less strain on the back .
10. While bending forward, first bend both knees slightly, tighten your stomach to support your back , squat and then lift off load from the floor. This is a much safer way, as your legs will help you lift up the load and not the back alone.
Making these simple alterations and adjustments in our daily work/home routine shall ensure that we do not miss out on the best practices of posture and neck. It is also important to keep changing your position, try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
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Dr Abinas Sudan
Physiotherapist, BPT C/MDT, Board Certified, USA