Working from home…without the aches & pains!
This week I learned (courtesy of Selina – thank you!) that Display Screen Assessments are a legal requirement for desk-based workers. But outside the office it’s a grey area. Working from home is increasingly common and whilst it has its pros, there are also cons - posture-related pain topping the list. And it’s not only workers at risk – it's back to school/college/uni season – hours spent studying don’t do our posture any favours either, but ironically DSA’s aren’t even a thing for students.
So why does it matter?
Poor posture leads to a variety of health problems, including back and neck pain, muscle tension, fatigue, and even headaches. When working from home, it's easy to fall into bad habits, such as slouching on the couch or hunching over a laptop, which can exacerbate these issues.
Good posture on the other hand has lots of benefits:
1. Pain. Good posture can alleviate the strain on your muscles and joints, reducing the likelihood of developing chronic pain conditions.
2. Breathing. Proper alignment of the spine allows for better lung expansion, leading to improved oxygen intake and increased energy levels.
3. Productivity. Maintaining good posture can help you stay focused and productive by reducing discomfort and fatigue.
What can we do to help ourselves?
1. Workspace setup: create a dedicated workspace with a proper office chair. Invest in a good quality chair with lumbar support – if this isn’t feasible supportive back & seat cushions are inexpensive & can make a huge difference.
2. Practice the 20:20:20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This helps reduce eye strain and encourages you to change your posture regularly.
3. Proper Keyboard, Screen & Mouse Placement. Have your keyboard and mouse within easy reach, and your wrists should remain in a neutral position – not bent or flexed. Ensure your screen is directly in front of you and at eye level too. Laptops tend to encourage a more hunched position so if needs be, a laptop stand, separate keyboard, and/or a separate screen, can be worthy investments.
4. Regular breaks. Avoid sitting for extended periods. Set reminders to take short breaks every hour. Stand, stretch, or walk around to relieve tension and improve circulation.
5. Sit back. Use the backrest of your chair to support your lower back. Sit with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Avoid slumping or leaning forward.
6. Move your body. Incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your daily routine to improve posture. Focus on exercises that target the neck, shoulders, back, and core muscles.
7. Standing desk? Consider investing in a standing desk or a desk converter that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing while working. Our bodies weren’t designed to sit down as much as a desk job dictates so being able to vary position and stand for periods is ideal.
Both working from home and studying present challenges when it comes to posture. Paying attention to your workspace and implementing posture-improving habits can reduce the risk of pain, discomfort, and long-term changes to your posture. Prioritising good posture is an investment in your well-being and productivity. So, remember, sit up, take breaks, and make small adjustments - your body will thank you for it!