Top Tips on Keeping Your Spine Aligned While Working from Home
Because of recent happenings with COVID and other socially isolating activities, many of us in Santa Fe, NM found ourselves working from the comfort of our own homes. Working from home, even though it appeared like a dream come true, may nevertheless lead you to suffer from back pain, poor posture, and muscular strain.
For some, the transition to work from home was difficult, but we are here to offer our best advice for when you continue to work from your home. Though you had newfound flexibility and freedom when it came to your appearance and location when working, there are some downsides to working from home such as resisting the temptation to work in pajamas or from the couch or bed instead of a desk or table.
Avoid the couch or bed and make a designated workspace
Not only does sitting on your couch or bed drain your motivation and productivity levels, working for hours like this can cause damage and strain to your spine. If you work from the couch or bed, you may find your neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips in pain by the end of the week.
Instead, make yourself a dedicated workspace whether on a table or desk if you have one. Your workspace should be in an area away from the kitchen and living room to avoid distractions. You want to be comfortable, but not to the point you can forget what you are supposed to be doing during the day. Areas with natural light can help improve your motivation and mood.
Make sure your keyboard, computer, laptop, and/or monitor is set to the right heights. A misplaced keyboard can lead to hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, and upper back problems. Adjust everything so it is in comfortable reach and you can work in a neutral and relaxed posture. Everything should be kept at eye level to reduce strain on your neck and spine.
Stick to routine
Maintaining the same schedule and routine daily is a bit of great advice. You should get up early and dress for success to get you in the right frame of mind for work. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a full blouse and skirt piece, but it is a good idea not to wear lounge clothes or your pajamas as they can make you feel tired or less energized when working.
If your schedule is more flexible when working from home, it's a
good idea to still try and keep your same work hours to enhance
productivity and give your day some structure. That being said, working
from home can be difficult and draining at times, so add in shorter,
more frequent breaks. It’s a good idea to
keep your breaks under 15 minutes so you don’t entirely lose focus. We
understand that if you are new to the idea of working from home there
can be plenty of distractions such as children, roommates, housework,
pets, or the television, so try to power through tasks 30-60 minutes at a
time before taking a break.
Because of the nature of the work, jobs that include sitting at a desk or computer or those performed at home can frequently lead to spinal strain and discomfort. If you have poor posture, it will only worsen with time, which can lead to a host of additional health problems, some of which can negatively impact your work life in areas such as performance and productivity. If you work at a desk for a living, you probably already know how challenging it can be to find a comfortable position and decent posture. Working from home is not all that different in this regard. Several factors might lead to incorrect alignment, including the positioning of the keyboard and monitor, the chair's height, and how you sit and stand. The following are some suggestions we have for maintaining well-being at your place of employment.
Be aware of your posture
Desk jobs can make you less active throughout the day, but also increase your likelihood of developing back, hip, neck, and shoulder problems from an unsupportive posture or position. Be mindful of how you sit, stand, and walk. Pay attention to your neck, shoulders, and spine during the day and correct yourself if you find your body slouching or hunching over.
If you’re uncomfortable, adjust yourself. Your chair should be tall enough for you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. Sit close enough so that you can type with your shoulders relaxed.
Performing these stretches every hour during your workday can help ensure your spine’s alignment and health. These exercises only require a 3-5 minute break and can be done right at your chair.
1. Neck and shoulder rolls
These stretches help to ease tension in the neck and shoulders. For the neck roll, sit straight and look forward, dropping your shoulders as you take deep breaths. Lower your chin to your chest and feel a nice stretch from the base of your shoulders. You can hold it for 20 seconds before proceeding to the next step. Slowly, roll your head to either side so your ear almost touches your shoulder, this will help to stretch neck and shoulder muscles. Move-in slow circles for 20-30 seconds. Rolling your shoulders forward for 20 seconds and then backward for another 20 can help loosen up your muscles and relieve tension. Repeat 3 times.
2. Chest stretches
Sitting straight with your eyes forward, take a few deep breaths and slowly extend your arms upward. Hold this position for several breaths extending your fingers as well. Bring your arms down gently and place them behind your head so your elbows point outward. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your elbows back as far as you can, hold this position for 20-30 seconds. This stretch targets the chest, neck, upper back, and shoulders.
3. Office chair hip stretch
This stretch reduces lower back and sciatic pain while working to increase flexibility in your legs and hips. Begin with your feet flat on the ground and sitting up straight. Take your right foot and rest it on your left knee. Lift the upper body and sit as tall as possible slightly leaning forward. Hold for 20 seconds before switching sides and repeat 3 times.
4. Lower back and side stretch
This stretch will benefit your long spinal muscles due to the sideways movement and allow you to feel a soothing release in your lower back. Begin with your muscles sitting evenly in your chair and feet flat on the ground. Rest your right arm on your lap or armrest while raising your left hand up into the air. Gently lean into your right side to create a curve with your body, hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat 3 times.