The recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers around the world to adopt a remote work environment. Unless you already had a complete home office in place, chances are you're still getting adjusted to the transition.
In fact, you might be logging into conference calls and sending emails from your living room sofa or your kitchen table. At first, the setup might feel fine, but without proper ergonomic equipment, your health and posture could suffer.
Today, we're sharing how to take care of your back as you work remotely. You might be miles away from that cushy office chair, but you can still make your at-home seating as comfortable as possible.
Read on to learn more!
Learn the Right Way to Sit
It sounds simple enough, but most of us are probably sitting incorrectly as we log into a Zoom conference or hop onto a group chat.
Start by sitting upright in your office chair. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, with your thighs slightly lower than your hips. If yours are too high, adjust your chair. Some office chairs even allow you to change the degree of tilt, along with the back position.
If your chair is properly adjusted, your feet should rest flat on the floor. However, if it feels necessary, you can add a footrest. Still, your knees should never be pressed up higher than your hips, as this can put undue strain on your lower back.
Take Short, Frequent Breaks
We weren't meant to sit at a computer for hours on end! If you notice that your back is feeling stiff, it's time to get up and move.
Rather than working through the morning and taking a two-hour lunch break, try to break up your schedule a little. Short, frequent breaks are better on your body and more refreshing than a few long ones.
While you're away from the computer, engage in a few simple lower back stretches to loosen any tension. Then, you can return to your workstation feeling refreshed.
Practice Good Posture
Do you find yourself slouching over your keyboard by the end of the day? Doing so doesn't just contribute to eye strain. It can also wreak havoc on your neck and back muscles.
Sitting up straight might feel strange at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it will become.
Start by adjusting your chair or computer to ensure that the top of your monitor is just below eye level. If you find it difficult to position your laptop this way, or if you're working on a reading-intensive task, you can prop a few books underneath your laptop to raise it up.
Next, check your shoulder position. While it's a natural tendency to raise and hunch them up, try to keep them relaxed and lowered.
Then, take a look at your lower arms. As you type, they should be parallel to the floor, and you should be able to reach all of your essentials (mouse, keyboard, coffee cup) without straining.
Keep in mind that even when you've perfected your computer desk posture, it's still important to break out of that position and wiggle around every so often. Changing position keeps your muscles warm and loose.
Add a Pillow to Your Seat
Is your kitchen chair doubling as your office chair? You might not have a fully-adjustable, leather office chair to enjoy while you work from home.
In this case, simply adding a thin pillow to the bottom of your chair can make a world of difference. If you don't have a spare pillow, you can roll up a fluffy towel to achieve the same effect. Even draping a towel over the back of your chair can help it feel plusher and more comfortable!
Use a Towel for Lumbar Support
Ideally, your lower back will be slightly arched while you sit and work, and your chair should provide support for your lumbar spine. Yet, most standard straight-back chairs are not designed to provide this level of cushioning.
To alleviate lower back pain, roll up a towel and rest it on the back of your pelvis while you sit. Although there are specialty pillows you can buy that are designed just for this purpose, a towel does the trick in a pinch.
Remember to slide all the way back in the chair so the towel is actually supporting your spine rather than just pressing against it.
Try Desk Alternatives
Even if you're lucky enough to have a great home office setup, it pays to vary your work environment. Instead of sitting at your desk the entire day, why not try a few alternatives?
For instance, you can use or create a standing desk to avoid staying inactive for too long and straining your back. Or you can bounce lightly on a yoga ball. Both of these alternatives can help reduce back pain.
Know How to Take Care of Your Back From Home
Working from home can be an adjustment for anyone. If you're used to your in-office setup, the transition can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health.
If you've noticed that your back muscles feel tighter or sorer than usual, it could be a sign that your at-home setup isn't quite complete.
As you learn how to take care of your back from home, take the time to implement the steps above. When you do, you'll find that you're able to be even more productive and on-task than before.
For more information on how to navigate this new normal and ensure the wellbeing of your team members, reach out to us today.