03 Mar Ensure Proper Posture While Working From Home
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As people continue to work from home, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to remember the importance of good posture while you are sitting and working. Even if you are no longer employed, you may be spending a larger amount of time working in a home office–from paying bills and watching videos and movies to keeping in touch with family and friends through e-mail and video chats.
Correct posture is especially important for older adults. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, years of slouching wears away at your spine making it more fragile and prone to injury. Holding your body using poor posture and moving in unhealthy ways often leads to neck, shoulder, and back pain. In fact, in any 3-month period, about 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has at least 1 day of back pain.
Poor posture can also decrease your flexibility, how well your joints move, and your balance. It can impact your ability to do things for yourself and increase your risk for falls. Slumped posture can even make it more difficult to digest the food you eat and breathe comfortably.
Create a Healthy Posture Environment
Take the time to create a healthy environment which promotes good posture while working at home. Here are some helpful guidelines from the CDC:
- Office Chair. A chair with armrests is ideal for seating, It should allow your feet to rest flat on the floor with the hips and knees at, or slightly greater than, a 90º angle. A seat height that ranges from about 16 to 21 inches off the floor works for most people. This allows the user to have his or her feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk. The chair height should be easily adjustable with a pneumatic lever. If your feet are not flat on the floor, use a box or book as a footrest. In general, avoid working on a couch or soft chair. If there is no other option, use pillows to provide some back support and work in an upright position.
- Stretch. Spend about 5 – 10 minutes before you sit for long periods of time and do a basic stretching routine. For example: walk in place; reach both arms up and down; lean side-to-side with one arm over head and the other hand on hip then alternate to other side; roll shoulders forward and backward; and roll head in a half circle left and right.
- Move Around. Varying your posture regularly is beneficial. If possible, periodically work standing up (perhaps at a countertop) as a break to prolonged sitting.
- Use Support. Ideally, the low back should be supported at the natural inward curvature of the lumbar spine. Roll a towel or place a pillow at the base of your spine to provide support to any chair.