Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Is this new normal putting a strain on more than just your social life?
For many, the sudden switch to working from home is taking a physical toll too.
Whether it’s a dull ache that lurks between the shoulders or an unfamiliar twitch in the left lower back, the sedentary nature of remote work is affecting our posture.
So, with that in mind, we contacted Zach Shlien of PostureBreak to offer practical tips on how to improve your posture when working from home. Zach uses low-intensity exercise to protect people with sedentary jobs from the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. We got to know Zach last year when he was featured on Vistaprint’s podcast, Small Business Stories.
In this article, Zach covers the following advice for improving your posture when working from home:
- Desk ergonomics
- Improving posture at your laptop
- Stretching tips
- Easy exercises
I don’t have an ergonomic office chair, what’s the best alternative?
Working standing up is the best option.
To start, you use your muscles the way nature intended – standing on your own two feet.
But that’s not all. Standing also helps avoid overuse injuries that occur when the body is strained from lack of movement. And you’ll improve your blood flow, which could help with cognition too.
It takes time to build up the endurance required to stand all day. An effective way to start is by alternating between sitting and standing every 20 minutes. It took me a few months to be able to stand and work comfortably all day. Now, I can stand all day and don’t think twice about my energy levels. And, if I’m tired, I know it’s earned from standing for the majority of the day.
Any advice on how to improve posture when working on a laptop?
Working on a laptop tends to make you look down instead of straight ahead. And that strains your back, neck and shoulders and makes you slouch.
But there are some things you can do to alleviate the stress on your body:
- Alternate between standing and sitting.
- Make sure you maintain proper posture while working. Check out this video for The Big Six Posture Points.
- Exercise: Stretching, pilates and yoga help keep you supple.
- Get eight hours of sleep.
- Eat healthily and avoid sugary drinks.
- Consume a cup of green tea in the afternoon no later than six hours before bed.
How often should I get up to stretch throughout the day?
Every 29 minutes of sitting should be accompanied by 1 minute of movement. Or you can do five stretching breaks of 60 seconds each throughout the workday. A quick walk around 2 or 3 pm is also great to help avoid the afternoon sluggishness that sets in after lunch.
What are the best exercises to make sure I don’t end up hunched over with rounded shoulders?
These two exercises are intended to remedy those symptoms:
Wall-Assisted Shoulder Flexion
Do each exercise for 30 seconds. They strengthen and stretch muscles that become weak and tight from extended periods of sitting.
Realistically, I only have a few minutes to myself each day. Will these exercises make a difference?
They’re equally effective for short-term and long-term benefits. In the short term, you’ll feel better by increasing blood flow, which will boost your mood and energy levels. You’ll also feel awake and stretched out rather than sluggish and tight.
Long term, you’ll accumulate years of brief stretching microbreaks to avoid musculoskeletal injuries from lack of movement and muscle imbalances.
Want to learn more about how to improve your posture when working from home? Visit PostureBreak for more exercises to boost health, energy, productivity and posture. Zach even created an app. Download it now.
Stay safe. And keep your shoulders back.