We Asked a Chiropractor for Tips on Maintaining Good Posture While Working From Home (Video)
It's safe to say we've lost count of how many days we've been working remotely in quarantine. And as we continue to hunker down at home, signing on from our bedroom-turned-office, it may be easy to slouch over our laptops — or even worse, work from bed. However, it's important to be mindful of our posture and mobility.
"We really overlook how simple it is to correct our posture, and what a significance it has to our whole body," Dr. Alexandra Duma, DC, DACBSP, a chiropractor at New York City recovery studio FICS, told Travel + Leisure. “Our parents were right when they said, 'Sit up straight.'”
Duma, who has worked with Olympic athletes on Team USA as well as everyday professionals, regularly sees the effects of poor posture from clients — a common issue before working in quarantine was even a thing.
From creating the perfect home office setup to penciling in some exercise, Duma's number-one tip for working from home has to do with the workspace itself.
"Try to assign a space where you can be productive, by a source of light, and make sure that you’re not on a couch or bed," she said. "I think people can be tempted to do that during this time...but that can be very bad for your body, back, and neck, so try to have a space with a desk and chair."
Even though it's typically seen as a major work-from-home perk, she warned, "If you work from your couch, probably in two days, you’ll be in a lot of pain."
Be mindful of alignment.
Duma notes that a standing desk is ideal for any work setup. However, the specifics of a designated workspace not only lie in your (makeshift) office equipment, but in the way you sit as well. Chairs should have lumbar support, meaning the back of the chair should be flush against you. If your chair lacks firm back support, Duma suggests sticking a pillow behind you.
"Ideally, you want your head in an upright [position], with your ears lining up with your shoulders [and] your eyes looking at the top third of the screen or monitor," she said. "You want to make sure that your elbows are at a 90- to a 110-degree angle, just letting your forearms rest."
Shoulders should be relaxed and knees should also be bent at a 90-degree angle. Duma also recommends using books or a mat under your laptop and feet to help your forearms and feet become parallel. She even suggests holding your phone a little higher or setting it up on a surface that's level with your eyes to prevent straining your neck.
Anyone looking for extra advice when it comes to their at-home work setup can book a virtual consultation with Duma directly at ficsnyc.com or by calling 212-233-5999.
Integrate movement into your workday.
Much like the days when we'd commute to the office, walk to meetings, and head out to pick up lunch, movement throughout the day is important while working from home. Duma recommends walking around or standing while taking phone calls, or setting an alarm every 30 to 60 minutes as a reminder to move, stretch, or use a foam roller.
"We have to get into the habit of being in movement and not getting stuck for eight to 10 hours in front of the computer," she said, even suggesting something as simple as getting up to get a glass of water or forcing yourself to move by spreading out work materials in different rooms.
Those of us working in small spaces can lock in some easy stretches right from our chairs by doing neck rolls, reaching our arms overhead and interlacing fingers, or doing some cat and cow stretches on all fours.
Noting the major role that our mind plays in our physical well-being, Duma advises individuals to maintain a level of calm throughout the day, as stress can trigger slouching or hunched shoulders.
"All of a sudden, you get an email or assignment and automatically your body will go into this flight-or-fight type mode," she described. "Your shoulders will get elevated almost close to your ears, your heart will start pounding, and your breathing [will become] affected."
Sitting up straight can assist in regulating your breathing and help mitigate a stressful situation, she explained.
"Take it step by step," she added.
Strike a balance between work and working out.
With gyms and studios closed around the country, Duma encourages everyone to exercise at home. She suggests picking a workout you're familiar with, especially without an instructor or trainer around to help.
"I hope everyone does some form of movement, but I would hope people don't go to the extreme [and think], ‘I haven't done a workout in months and now I'm going to go all out and do the craziest workout I find on Instagram' and get injured," she said.
Duma recommends at least 30 minutes of cardio a day — time that would otherwise be spent traveling to work if offices were open.
"My hope in this unfortunate situation is that people do move a bit more," she said. "Now that you no longer have to commute, dedicate that time to move, whatever form of movement it is — a yoga class, some cardio activity if you have access to a treadmill [or] bike, or dance — just move."