So many of us have been working from home over the past year and we’ve seen a surge in home-based occupational stresses manifesting in physical symptoms. Over a year ago, only a small percentage had appropriate workstations set up so they could properly perform their duties from home. Most people assumed that working from home would only be temporary and did not spend the time or money to establish ergonomic home workstations. We’ve heard things like, “I’m sitting on my piano bench”, “I sit on the couch with my laptop all day”, “I work at the dining room table and sit in an uncomfortable chair”, “I sit on a barstool and work on the kitchen counter”. Here are some tips to help improve your posture while working:
The following can negatively influence posture:
- Pain with muscle spasms and guarding
- Excessively flattened (pronated) or supinated feet
- Previous injuries that did not heal correctly and now cause stress on the body
- Prolonged standing (especially on hard surfaces)
- Too much weight on the body
- Wearing unsupportive shoes (most shoes have no arch support)
- Sedentary occupations
- Cell phone usage (tech neck, etc)
How to Improve General Posture:
- Be mindful of your posture during everyday activities, such as watching TV, washing dishes, or walking. Be sure to not lean forward or look down excessively.
- Stay active. Any kind of exercise may help improve your posture. (Ex: Yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates where body awareness comes into play). Core strengthening exercises are also good.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, cause problems for your pelvis, spine and feet, and contribute to low back pain.
- Flat or excessively pronated feet create postural distortions from the ankles up to the jaw.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. For example, high heels can throw off your balance and force you to walk differently, which puts more stress on your muscles and harms your posture. Wearing good shoes with proper arch support or custom made orthotics can help your posture. At Achtermann Chiropractic we can cast your feet for Sole Supports custom made orthotics.
- Make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height when you are sitting in front of a computer, making dinner, or eating a meal.
- Note: The traditional way of working from a desk is to sit in a chair for at least 8 hours a day. Issues arise when people are not in a supported sitting position and don’t take regularly scheduled breaks. In fact, sitting is one of the worst positions for the body because of the amount of pressure exerted on the lumbar vertebrae, lumbar discs, pelvis and hips.
How to Improve Posture when Sitting:
- Switch sitting positions every 20 to 30 minutes
- Take brief walks around your office or home
- Gently stretch your muscles every so often to keep them loose and reduce muscle tension
- Don’t cross your legs, keep your feet on the floor with your ankles in front of your knees. Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips
- Make sure your feet touch the floor, or use a footrest
- Relax your shoulders: they should not be rounded or pulled foreward
- Keep your elbows close to your body at a 90 degree angle and rest on arm rests if possible
- Your back should be fully supported. Sit with your back against your chair or use a backrest that can support the lower lumbar curve
Many home-based employees have opted for standing workstations as it allows them to vary their daily posture and break up the monotony of always sitting. When standing, be sure to balance your body weight on each foot in a 50/50 ratio between the hindfoot and the mid/ forefoot. This dissipates the body’s weight properly and allows the foot’s arches to engage.
And don’t forget: Get adjusted to improve your posture. Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce low back pain, neck pain, and forward head and shoulder posture.