These days, many of us are working remotely, ditching long commutes on congested road ways for slipper-padded strolls a few feet away to the home office down the hall. Unfortunately, just as with in-office work, remote work can pose many physical challenges – not the least of which is poor posture while at the computer.
However, the difference here is that you may not be as distracted or roused from your concentration at home quite as often as if you were in an office filled with meetings, break-room donut runs or water cooler gossip. The result? Sitting for hours at a time behind a desk, often times at non-ergonomic-friendly chairs and desks that can be brutal on your spine.
Sitting down in the same position all day long really does a number on your posture and your back. As you sit, you start to slump forward subconsciously. Most times, you aren’t even aware your posture is changing! This puts more pressure on your muscles and ligaments, affecting not just your back, but your arms, shoulders, and neck.
Why do we hunch? It’s a knee-jerk response to sitting in one place all day, as you get more fatigued throughout the day. As you roll your shoulders forward, the strain on your back is increased and this results in misalignment of the spine. This can result in severe back pain that can not only make it painful and difficult to concentrate, but can also detract from your overall quality of life.
When you stay in a seated position for a long period of time, this forces your spine to bear the weight of your whole body. On top of all that, circulation problems often arise. So what can you do about it?
Tips for Better Alignment
Here are some things you can do to ensure your spine isn’t so stressed throughout the work day.
1. Create a Designated Workspace
Forget the couch. Your mind will automatically associate it with relaxation and it will be easier to switch on the TV and veg out, draining your motivation and productivity levels. Not only that, it will cause even more strain on your spine, leading to sore necks, lower backs and hips. It’s best to create a dedicated workspace with a table and chair away from all distractions, such as the kitchen or living room. Areas with natural light are best, as they will improve motivation and mood – both critical to productivity.
2. Position Your Equipment Correctly
Set your keyboard, computer, laptop, and monitor at optimal heights. A misplaced keyboard can do more damage than you think, leading to hand, wrist, arm, upper back and shoulder issues. Keep your monitor at eye level to reduce neck and spine stress, and put all your supplies within comfortable reach. Use a neutral and relaxed posture.
Every so often, check your posture. Make a conscious effort to sit up straight, roll back your shoulders and realign yourself. It’s easy to fall back into old habits!
3. Stick to a Routine
It’s easy to slack when working from home, but try to keep the same schedule and routine. Wake up as you normally would, at the same time every day. Shower and get dressed so you can put yourself in the professional and productive mindset. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but pajamas won’t give you that go-get-em attitude.
Keep the same work hours if you can to ensure optimal productivity and add structure to your day. Add in lots of breaks to grab a coffee and snack, take a quick walk or just do some stretches, such as neck and shoulder rolls, lower spinal stretches, and wrist stretches to ease tension.
Keep these breaks under 20 minutes so you don’t lose your focus.
Contact Summit Spine and Joint Centers
Need more tips on how to maintain proper alignment? Summit Spine and Joint Centers can help! We specialize in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, many of which arise from poor spinal alignment over time. Please contact us 770-250-4020 or complete our online form to schedule your appointment.