Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the governments have been encouraging the companies to ask their employees to work from home. Working from home has its challenges, the most important being absence of a proper workplace and a proper chair and table. In the office, one is very much accustomed to their office chairs and desks. The height of the chair is adjusted accordingly to one’s requirement. While working from home, one may use any available chair, sofa, or slouch in any position and work, and, in the middle or end of the day, end up with backache or neck pain.
So, even if you are working from home, you must make the sitting arrangement for yourself and the laptop/computer in the same way as you do in the office. Let’s have a look at some helpful tips to follow to avoid backache when working from home.
Tips for Maintaining Proper Posture When Sitting at the Desk Work:
- A chair with good back support is a must. The center of gravity of our body changes when we sit. This puts pressure on your spine, back muscles, and ligaments. Sitting without back support will create more pressure since the person would hunch on the desk, thereby increasing the pressure and causing fatigue to the low back muscles and resulting in the pain.
A good chair is the one that provides you with proper lumbar and pelvic support. This helps to maintain the normal curvature of the lumbar spine as well as supports the pelvis, thereby reducing the pressure on the spine, muscle, and ligaments. Also, the chair should have a backward recline of 100-110 degrees.
If your chair does not support your low back, roll a towel and place it between the chair and low back for support.
- Avoid sitting at the chair’s edge. Sit back in the chair with your buttocks touching the back of the chair.
- Adjust the height of the chair such that your feet rest on the ground. If the feet don’t touch the ground, keep a short stool below for support.
- Your knees should be at 90 degrees and in line with the hips. They could also be slightly elevated.
- Relax the shoulders but don’t stoop. Keep your ears in line with your shoulders.
- While typing, keep the elbows at a 90-degree angle and close to your body, and the wrists should be in a straight line with the forearm when typing. You may/may not use the hand-rest.
- If you are using a monitor, the keyboard and the monitor should be directly in front of you. The height of the monitor should slightly above your eyes. The monitor should be at an arms distance from your eyes.
- If you are using a laptop:
- Place it on a stable surface like a table, instead of keeping on your lap.
- The height of laptop screen should be slightly above your eyes. You can use books to elevate the height.
- You can also sit on the floor and keep the laptop on the coffee table or sofa.
- If possible, try to use a separate mouse for the laptop. It should not be too small. This helps in maintaining the neutral position of the wrist.
- While typing, keep the elbows at a 90 degrees angle and close to your body, and keep the wrists straight line with the forearm.
- Do not remain seated for prolonged intervals. When in office, take short breaks to stretch yourself or get up and take a walk around.
- Avoid the temptation of sitting on a sofa or slouching.
You may follow these stretching exercises when working from home to avoid backache.
- Upper body and arms stretch:
Raise your arms and lock your fingers with palms facing upwards. Stretch yourself as if trying to reach the roof. Count 10 and slowly come back to your normal position. Repeat 2 times.
- For shoulders:
- Shoulder shrug: Lift your shoulders high, count 5, release and drop them gently. Repeat 2 times.
- Shoulder rotation: Extend the arms outside. Now fold and place your fingers on the shoulder. Rotate the shoulders gently in the clockwise direction for 3 counts and anticlockwise direction for 2 times.
- For neck:
- Move the neck gently to the right side. Hold for 5 counts and come back to the original position. Repeat this 2 times for both sides.
- Hold the neck for 5 counts and then look down and hold till 5 counts. Repeat this 2 times.
- Stretching for palms and fingers:
- Extend your hand out with palm pointing outwards and fingers pointing downwards. With the other hand gently pull the fingers of the outstretched hand towards your body. Hold it till for 5 counts and release. Repeat for the other hand.
- Repeat again, this time keeping the fingers of the outstretched hand pointing upwards.
- Stretching for sides of the trunk: Raise the right arm over your head and place the left hand on the thigh. Slowly bend to the left side till you feel a stretch on the lateral side of your trunk. Hold for the count of 10 and come back to your original position. Repeat the same for your left arm and repeat it twice for each side.
- Backstretch: Sit straight on the chair place the feet on the ground with some gap between them. Raise your hands high up and slowly bend forwards and try to touch the ground with your fingers first and then stretch further and touch the ground with your palms. You will feel a stretch in your back. Remain in this position for a count of 10 and come back to the original position.
- Hamstring stretch: Sit near the edge of your chair with feet flat on the ground. Extend one leg out with heel on the ground and the toes pointing up towards the shin. Keep the other leg in a normal position. Keeping the back and spine straight, slowly try to touch the toes of the extended leg. Hold it for a count of 10 and come back to your original position. Repeat it with the other leg too. Repeat it 2-3 times.
It will take a little bit of practice and mindfulness to get used to the posture. But, practicing this would go a long way in protecting your spine as we spend maximum time in the sitting position. A good posture could also help avoid gastric reflux.
If the backache persists and prevents you from working normally, you could use hot and cold fomentation and seek advice from a doctor for the same.