The shift from office to home is tough in so many ways. We are all trying to work, while teaching our children, and take care of our homes during a crisis. One thing to remember is that you can set yourself up to actually IMPROVE and feel better with your neck and back while working from home. Let’s get right into it.
Tip 1: Proper Alignment
One of the things you may (or may not) have noticed in society today is the general lack of posture and change in human structure related to work technology and personal technology use.
Our spine is meant to be in an upright position and we evolved this way for specific reasons. When we habitually break this natural curve of the spine we develop issues. We get strain on nerves and muscles that run along the spine and then pull and pain in extremities from this.
Every part of the human body is connected and when we break the chain related to posture all areas suffer. Let’s take a look.
Our heads have become more forward. Our ears should be aligned with our shoulder area (behind our clavicle), but because of learning forward to view devices they have shifted. This causes neck, eye strain (and more) and then misalignment of the vertebrae.
So yes this is an issue and we do need to be in front of our computer or device for work. So let’s look at the position.
If you have to be seated your position should look like the following:
Because my job as a graphic designer, and blogger here, do require a significant amount of desk work I too can attest to the pain in the neck, the headaches and other weird pains that come from being in a seated position all day.
The 90-degree angle
The 90-degree angle is ESSENTIAL when in a seated or standing position. Your legs should be at 90 degrees. If you are short and your legs are hanging off your chair – you probably have a headache and neck pain. (HELLO?! That’s me here and I didn’t think about it until I was in a lot of pain every day). You will also get low back strain from improper angles of the legs. The hand position should also be 90 degrees. This prevents neck and upper extremity pain and keeps the lower regions lined up.
If you shift to standing (coming right up) you should have a 90-degree angle still with your hands and the keyboard.
Your eyes and neck should not be up or down, but directly neutral in front of you. That means with a phone lift it up to your face in front, with a screen get it into the correct position by using books, a device or special desk (more to come).
Tip 2: Stand Up Sit Down Desk – The BEST Solution
What I found to be the best is this amazing standing and sitting desk device! There are many on the market, but I personally have used this brand for a few years now, and can attest to the quality and stability of it. You can run your cords and add it to a surface of your choice. If you are being told to work from home from your employer, this is a legitimate request to get your work done safely. This can be transported back to your office also for continued use.
Benefits of the stand up sit down desk
This desk will allow you to be in a standing position as long as you can during the day. This is a great thing. This will help you with alignment, less pain, burn more calories and generally behave more primally as humans should. Most humans spent most days upright and moving.
This desk is better than some as it has multiple levels as well. You can align your hands, and head properly while using it in both positions. The up and down is easy to do and it’s stable when moving it. The lock-in mechanism is heavy-duty as well.
Tip 3: Take Breaks
Now that we have fixed alignment in a seated position and standing, it’s time to move toward other movement techniques that can help during the day. The first is breaks during the day.
Letting your eyes, brain and body rest for just a few minutes is essential to keeping you working tip-top. Since you are home, you can take a bathroom break, walk outside in the yard for a few minutes, even a trip around the block before returning to work. You should plan to move from the desk in either position every 2 hours or more. Ideally, a quick movement every hour is best!
You could set your children up with their work near you, they work, you work, you break, they break. Get the wiggles out! Do work as a team. This makes everyone feel accomplished.
Tip 4: Stretching or Yoga
So during your work-time, you might not be able to do yoga, however, stretching is an option. Rotating between movement and stretching on your hourly quick breaks is an option. So what can you do?
Let’s start by opening the front of your body up. You can do this by slight backbends, arms raised up above your head to the sky, lunges, chin tucks. You want to straighten/lengthen the spin and roll your shoulders back and down.
If you are exercising daily now as well, consider movement that will strengthen your work position. You want to focus on core and posture. Simulate rowing in cardio, low impact moves like wall angels, doorway stretching. Check out a few more moves to help here. These are easy and have a yoga base. If you feel good doing them, ask me about streaming at-home workouts and yoga.
Tip 5: Exercise
As I eluded to above, it does go beyond just movement daily. You can really focus workouts each day for stress relief (who doesn’t need that) as well as strengthening. You should be incorporating about two days of weight training (that can be bodyweight or through the use of dumbbells), as well as at least 3 days of cardio workouts.
You do not have to go nuts with these. You can keep these activities to just 20 minutes each day. Look for the time of day that you have the most energy and aim the workout for then.
Take your routine outside if you can to get some much needed Vitamin D. This is a great immune-boosting vitamin and one that most people are very deficient in (especially in you live in the Northeast and some parts of the Northwest). If you can stand to expose your torso – do so. For a short 20 minute timeframe, you are safe from the negatives of the sun and will only benefit from the positive!
Would you like a group class at home? Check out my information here for streaming. If you just can’t afford that – I get that too. Here are some DVDs I would recommend. I have used many of Jessica Smith workouts and they are fantastic for keeping it safe, low key but effective.
This is the time to start to focus on yourself. We now have the time that we do not usually have to focus on these things. Use your work resources to accomplish these goals, or just set aside the time.
Share with me what helps you the most while working from home.
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