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Sayer Clinics tips on How To Sit Correctly For Those Who Work From Home

Sayer Clinics tips on How To Sit Correctly For Those Who Work From Home


As we are being urged to stay at home during the Coronavirus outbreak, more and more people are swapping their typical office environment for working from home. This has been a positive transition for many due to the advances in technology. However, the adjustments to sitting on a different chair and a different environment can start to affect your physical health. 


Office workers sit behind a computer screen for several hours a day with very little respite. This is often done with a desktop computer, but changes in the way you work could mean that a laptop is the new normal. Using a laptop for home working can present some unintended problems with back and neck pain. One of the main aspects is that you often look down at a laptop, whereas a desktop the screen is at eye level. Alongside this, there are several other things to consider to avoid coming out the other side of lockdown with a bad back. 


Take a look at the key areas to ensure you’re sitting correctly at home to reduce unnecessary injury.


Support your back

Before you head to the sofa with your laptop, it’s helpful to consider how it will support your back for prolonged periods. It’s natural to want to feel comfortable when working, but lounging in a chair can cause issues over time. One of the best things to reduce or avoid back pain is getting a supportive chair. An ergonomic office chair is the best option, and choosing a model that can be forward tilted and adjusted to your needs is advisable. We understand that this may be challenging in the current situation if you don’t have a home office already set up in your property. However, choosing a firm chair will help. To make a kitchen or dining chair more comfortable, use a wedge cushion to tilt you forwards with your knees below your hips.


Adjust your chair to encourage good posture

Your chair is one of the most important aspects of maintaining good posture while working from home. If you can, adjust your chair to prevent repetitive strain and back pain. Your chair height helps you use the keyboard with your arms and wrists level to the floor. Your elbows should also be at the side of your body to prevent straining. 


Resting your feet 

The position of your feet is also essential for good posture. If your chair height means you cannot comfortably reach the floor, adjust the seat height until your knees are lower than your hips with your feet under the chair for the best position. 

Try to to sit with most of the weight on the backs of your thighs, leaning slightly forwards with your chest up and the eye-level screen making you sit up straight with your head over your relaxed shoulders and your tummy touching the desk. Avoid crossing your legs while seated, as this can also affect your posture and sitting position. 


Use your laptop at eye level

If you use a desktop computer at work, it can be challenging to get your laptop screen to a similar eye level without affecting the ability to type. There a few ways to get it set up, so it makes your laptop more comfortable to use, such as:


• Use a laptop stand to raise the midle of the screen to your eyelevel and at your focal distance so that you don’t poke your head forwards. If you do not have a laptop stand, place some books or a small box under the screen to raise it.

• Opt for a separate keyboard and mouse so you can raise the level of the screen without affecting your typing. 


Position your keyboard and mouse correctly 

As you spend a considerable amount of time typing during work hours, ensuring your keyboard and mouse are set up comfortably is essential. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you while typing and elbows should also be at your side and wrists and arms level to the floor. 


The mouse should not be too close to you to avoid uncomfortable neck and shoulder muscle tensing. If you can, use a curved ergonomic mouse that helps relax the shoulders and reduce muscle fatigue using a vertical rollerball design. 


When using the keyboard and mouse, you can also support your wrists with rests and mats, which ensure they are level with the keys. 


Consider your desk position and office layout

Whether you have a dedicated home office or a small space for home working, it’s crucial to think about where you will sit in the room. Sitting by a window is a popular choice. However, you will need to consider glare and light reflection from the sun. Windows and doors can also cause draughts, and this can affect how comfortable you feel. Draughts can affect back pain in some instances, as a cold chill will make your muscles tighten around your spine and neck. 


Artificial lighting can also have a similar effect on glare from your screen. If possible, position the laptop down slightly to reduce this. 


Make sure you can reach everything easily

Naturally, not everything will be in the same place if you’re working out of a home office compared to your normal work environment. However, it’s essential to have most things to hand to make sitting more comfortable. If you’re using objects such a telephone, stationery or printer often, place them in positions that you can reach without overstretching. It’s easy to tweak a muscle or pull something while reaching for objects, and this can cause significant pain for such a small movement. 


Take regular breaks 

This tip is something that is not just important for working from home environments but also when you get back to the office too. Sitting for long periods is not ideal and can lead to a range of back pain issues. When you’re working, you will often stay in the same position for long periods of time, which will stiffen muscles. To make sure you’re moving more during the day, get up and make a cup of tea or wander around the garden for a few minutes. This will get the blood pumping and your muscles moving in regular bouts. Most people tend to take a longer break during the middle of the day. Still, it can be more beneficial to take shorter, more frequent intervals away from your laptop. 


Exercise more

Although current restrictions mean we can only exercise outside once a day, that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in a workout at home. Exercising more will keep your muscles and joints moving and flexible to help you avoid injury and back pain. What’s more, doing frequent exercise can help clear your mind and boost your motivation throughout the working day. 


Watch your posture

Correcting your posture takes time, and it’s something that should be worked on frequently to enjoy the benefits. We understand that it’s also easy to slip back into slouchy and unsupported positions, especially when working from home. Nobody’s perfect all of the time, but being mindful of your posture can help. Every hour, realign your body to ensure you are sitting comfortably and line up straight at your desk with your feet and wrists in the correct position. By doing these checks, you will start to get into better habits, and it will begin to happen over time subconsciously. 


Reduce smartphone use as much as possible

Most people use their smartphone for work, and it can be challenging to reduce its usage if you need it throughout the day. However, one of the main issues with smartphone use is similar to laptop use – you are always looking down at it. This can cause back, neck and wrist pain due to the position you hold the phone. 


To avoid bad posture, use voice recognition instead of texting which is now so outdated and look down at the screen with your eyes rather than head movements. It’s also beneficial to lift the device rather than looking down at it. If you can, use a smartphone stand on your desk and position it around eye level. You can also get Bluetooth keyboards so you can type more quickly and easily without having to look down at the screen. 

Simple at-desk stretches

It’s natural to feel achy when sitting at a desk for prolonged periods. However, there are a few simple stretches you can do periodically to improve your posture and reduce pain such as:


Seated spinal rotation – Cross your hands and place them on each shoulder. Rotate your body from the waist as far on each side as comfortably possible. You should feel a stretch in your both sides of your lower back.


Sitting back extensions – Sit straight and place your feet together. Put your hands on the lower back and lean back into your chair. 


Shoulder extension – Put your hands above your head and link hands. Then reach up as high as you can for a full shoulder stretch. 


Sitting comfortably and maintaining good posture will help reduce any aches and pains in the long term. By making simple adjustments and scheduling regular gentle exercise and stretches, you will enjoy a pain-free working from home experience.