For many of us, work looks quite different these days.
As more and more Americans have transitioned to remotely working from home offices, not only may work look different, but it can certainly feel different as well.
Over the past few years, our nationwide team of mobile physical therapists at MovementX have seen an uptick in cases of work-related neck pain, lower back stiffness, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 5 tips to improve posture when working from home to minimize pain, correct your body position, and maximize your attention on the work in front of you.
What is the “Perfect” Posture?
First things first, let’s bust this myth. Some believe the perfect posture may be firm and rigid like a soldier at attention, whereas others think your body should be in a more reclined and relaxed position.
In actuality, there is no “perfect” posture. Our bodies were designed for movement—there is no single position that you should maintain throughout your workday.
So what is the best posture? Your next one. That brings us to our first tip…
Tip #1: Avoid Sustained Body Positions
Maintaining a static body position for prolonged periods tends to be problematic. For instance, sitting or standing in place for greater than one hour can lead to unintended changes in muscle length and decreased blood flow throughout the body.
This can not only affect how you feel while on the clock, but also lead to a decreased ability to enjoy the rest of your day once work ends. More than half of Americans who experience low back pain spend the majority of their day sitting.
To help, we recommend setting alarms on your phone, utilizing reminders to move on your smartwatch or fitness device, or taking intentional movement breaks at designated hours.
A great concept to utilize is the 30-minute rule. This states that for every 30 minutes spent working spend 20 minutes sitting, 8 minutes standing, and 2 minutes moving around or stretching.
Don’t let your family or neighbors wonder if that’s a statue sitting at your desk.
Tip #2: Be Mindful of Repetitive Tasks
Many work-related tasks are inherently repetitive. Take a second and think about how many times you perform the same work-related actions in day. How much time do your fingers spend typing on a keyboard? How often is your head turned in a certain direction? How involved are your shoulders, arms, lower back, and legs in repetitive lifting or reaching motions?
Once you have a general idea of what movement patterns your workdays often consist of, the next step is to think about mixing things up. Move your phone or secondary monitor to the other side of your desk, use voice-to-text dictation, or change up your workstation to optimize body mechanics (see next tip). This type of awareness may decrease the risk of developing certain overuse injuries over time such as carpal tunnel, neck or lower back pain, or cervicogenic headaches.