Due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, many of us had no choice but to work from home. Working from home is not a common practice so we had to adapt to the new change. However, this sudden change in working environment can have some negative effects on our body if we are not aware of our posture during work.
Posture is a position in which a person holds their body. It can be in sitting, standing or lying down. There is a common belief that the best sitting and standing posture is the upright position where our spine is in neutral to allow equal spinal load distribution to prevent neck or back pain but this belief is not substantiated with research. One of the factors that can contribute to neck or back pain is not “bad” posture but the time we spend in that posture.
We, humans, are made to move. Being stuck in a posture for too long (more than 1.5 hours) can lead to neck or back pain because our soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) can become sensitive after prolonged periods of stress or load. So, it is recommended to desensitise it by loading it differently or at a different location. There is a saying “Your best posture is your next posture”. What it means is we should keep changing our posture or position regularly.
Posture alone is not a strong reason to suffer from pain, we need to consider other factors such as job satisfaction, relationship issues, and/or financial issues to name a few. On top of being aware of the time we spend in a posture; we need to pay attention to our mental health because being stressed or depressed has been associated to low back pain. Below are a few practical steps we can take to enable us to work effectively at home with minimal physical issues.
1. Work in a comfortable position and this can be our laziest posture aka slouching. It really doesn’t matter how we sit or stand; the important thing is we must be comfortable.
2. We need to manage our stress levels. It is recommended to take up an active hobby such as running, cycling, martial arts, dancing or swimming. Being physically active is a good way to control our stress levels naturally. On top of that, it has many other benefits for our heart, lungs, bones, brain and muscles.
3. Since we are made to move, we should be moving every hour to stop us from being stuck in a static position for too long. We can go for a three minutes’ walk, do some stretches, have coffee or a toilet break. The goal is to move almost every hour.
4. We should pace our work. Plan our day in such a way that we won’t be spending too much time in one posture.
To conclude, there is no single right posture to work from home. Every posture is acceptable but we should not be in the same posture for too long (around one hour). Remember the saying “Your best posture is your next posture” if you ever forget the advice I gave. Thank you.