The 6 tips to improve your posture and reduce back pain when working from home – The SunMay 6, 2020
FROM comfy loungewear to a well-stocked snack cupboard, working from home certainly has it perks.
But being torn away from your office set up, could be proving a pain in the neck – in more than one way, experts have warned.
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From hunching over to look at your laptop screen to struggling to get comfy in your kitchen chair, it can play havoc with your posture.
And that can leave you in pain, Emily Russell, an experienced musculoskeletal physiotherapist and pilates instructor, told The Sun.
The mum-of-three said: "Working like this for prolonged periods can, and often will, lead to back and neck pain."
But it's not all bad news. Emily said there are certain things you can do to relieve those aches and pains, and make working from home less painful.
Here, Emily shares her top tips to make WFH that little bit more comfortable…
1. Take a break
In our usual daily lives we are active… walking to and from stations, meetings, lunches, school runs.
Even leaving the desk to chat to colleagues breaks up the day.
Emily recommends setting a timer and moving at least five minutes every hour.
She told The Sun: "Even if it is a lap around the living room or a run up and down the stairs, this encourages you to move your body and 'listen out' for any postural aches and pains that may be setting in.
"The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has produced a great set of exercises which can be completed at or around the work station to keep you moving."
2. Are you sitting comfortably?
Ideally, we should be sitting with our knees, hips and elbows at 90 degree angles with our spine in a neutral position and our shoulder blades set gently back and down away from our ears, with our feet comfortably on the floor.
However, if the chair you are sitting on doesn't allow your feet to comfortably reach the floor then Emily urges you to put a support under your feet.
She says: "Pop a book or box under your feet so your knees and hips sit comfortably at 90 degrees.
"This will encourage a neutral pelvis and spine position."
3. Feel supported
Sticking a cushion or rolled towel in the small of your back will help to provide relief from lower back pain and offer an extra level of soothing support while you WFH.
Emily says: "This will mirror the lumbar support most office chairs will provide.
"It will also discourage a slumped back position where the lower back is rounded and alleviates strain on the lumbar region."
4. Elevate your screen
According to Emily, your screen should be at eye height so you are looking straight ahead and not down.
And keyboards should be positioned at elbow height so you can comfortably type with elbows at 90 degrees and neutral wrists.
Emily says: "A great deal of people are working on laptops on kitchen chairs which often means looking down at screens with shoulders rounded and chins poking forwards.
"This posture tends to shorten the muscles at the front of the neck and put strain on the muscles around the lower back and pelvis."
To take the strain off your neck, Emily recommends having your laptop propped up.
"Prop your laptop up on books or a box so the screen is at eye height then plug in an external keyboard so you can type with your elbows and shoulders in a comfortable position as above," she says.
"Alternatively a laptop raise works well."
5. Variety is spice of life
If you have done all of the above and remain uncomfortable then Emily recommends changing where you are working throughout the day.
She says: "Vary between the kitchen table, the sofa, the coffee table and even create your own standing workstation using a mantle piece or kitchen work top as your standing desk.
"Variation will help stop postural habits setting in and muscle imbalances exacerbating."
6. Get moving
Make time for yourself and make the most of all the amazing free workouts that are available on social media at the moment.
You can find most exercise classes on Instagram all you need is some water to keep you going and a bit of motivation.
We recommend trying Psycle's Instagram Live fitness classes.
They offer between four and six Instagram live workouts every single day, including abs blast sessions, revival yoga, HIIT, barre and meditation.
Barry's Bootcamp also offer around four live Instagram sessions every day with their incredibly honed trainers, with each day focusing on a different group of body muscles.
Or, of course, you could join in with Jo Wicks' highly motivating P.E classes each day.
Sussex Physiotherapy offers pilates, fitness and yoga classes – which help you to boost your fitness, strength, mood and well-being.
To find out more visit Sussex Physiotherapy here or follow them on Instagram here.
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