How to Perfect Your Posture When Working from Home
Author: Ergonomics 101 - Marketing Team Date Posted:10 March 2020
After spending years in a corporate office, you were probably unaware of the time and effort that went into setting up the workspace ergonomically.
The interior designers, office managers and company leaders were tasked with making sure that it was ergonomic and included the proper furniture to keep your back, arms, and neck healthy while spending very long days staring at the screen.
Now, with coronavirus and the requirement to work from home, you have to think about what kind of desk, chair and possibly even mouse you should be using to make sure that you are able to avoid pain in places such as your lower back.
Given this reality for (at least) the next couple of months, it is important to get into the right habits from the beginning and ensure that you have the proper furniture to enable that.
Here are some common posture mistakes to avoid when working from home.
Sitting Perfectly Perpendicular
Common knowledge dictates that having our shoulders back and chest out with a completely straight back is the best way to sit. However, research has demonstrated that sitting more relaxed, at approximately 135 degrees, slightly reclining actually puts less pressure on your spine than when you are sitting at a 90-degree angle. This was demonstrated after study participants sat either hunched forward, perfectly perpendicular or slightly reclined.
While sitting at a 135-degree angle might be too much of an angle for the entire day, best practice is to vary your posture slightly between sitting straight and reclining, or maybe even sitting with an even smaller angle and setting your chair at approximately 110 degrees.
As the day unfolds, sitting becomes more difficult and as fatigue sets in, many people slowly start to slouch which may feel more comfortable at that moment.
However, in addition to lower back pain, slouching can reduce the amount of oxygen that travels throughout your body and therefore essential organs such as the brain receive less oxygen.
As we breathe, our chests expand which causes our lungs to fill up with air. However, when you slouch, these muscles tighten making it more difficult to expand and causing shallow and quick breathing.
There are a number of simple solutions to help you avoid this. These include setting reminders for frequent intervals to do a self-check on your posture and correct it as needed, use a different type of chair such as a kneeling chair, and focus on ways of strengthening your core such as butterfly situps to allow you to sit more naturally and comfortably.
Making your Monitor too Low
In the age of laptops, having your monitor too low can definitely be problematic. If possible, it is important to have a screen that you can work from that can be adjusted to the right height for you and your workstation.
If the monitor is too low, you will have to lean forward. Of course, if it is too high, the opposite will be true and you will have to lean back to see it effectively.
Therefore, when setting up your monitor, try to ensure that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level and that it is approximately arm’s distance away to ensure that your eyes are not strained.
While standing desks bring many benefits including increased productivity and decreased risk of heart disease, standing all day is also not the healthiest way to work.
As you stand, your heart has to work harder to ensure that your entire body gets appropriate blood flow. Since your upper body needs that circulation as well, standing for too long causes blood to pool in your legs.
Changing your position throughout the day and standing anywhere from one quarter to three-quarters of the day is an effective method to balance the need to stand with the need to sit.
Overall, making sure that you are able to sit at a comfortable angle, set your monitor at an appropriate height and swap between sitting and standing will help keep your body healthy. This is important to remember not only while working from home but can also help with those long days when you eventually return to the office.