Within the last year, an increasing number of people around the world have a made shift to remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As working from home may be an entirely new experience for most, there has surely been a trial-and-error period in creating the most efficient and effective work station. This includes finding a set up that encourages the most optimal posture for you to avoid unnecessary aches and pains.
In a Statistics Canada survey from 2003, it was reported that in the previous year, around 2.3 million Canadians ages 20 years old and above suffered from repetitive strain injuries. Repetitive strain injuries of course include those developed from improper ergonomics. The encouraging thing to know is that there are a few simple changes that one can make to their habits and home work station in order to avoid such injuries. Here are some tips to follow in order to do so.
- Sit on firm but comfortable chair.
It may be tempting to set yourself up to work from bed in a long sitting position or a recliner chair in the living room. Over time, these positions will likely cause undo strain on your lower back. Sitting on a supportive chair with a back rest is a much better option. Chair is too short for your work table? Use cushions to act as risers. Chair is too tall? Place books
or a stool under your feet so they can be resting securely. A towel as a lumbar roll can also be another great addition to your seating arrangement.
- Be sure to be sitting with proper upright posture.
What does proper posture at the desk look like? Sit upright with your feet resting on the ground and your buttocks to the back of your seat
where it meets the back rest. Your shins should be perpendicular to the floor while your forearms with hands on the keyboard should be parallel to the floor. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed. The top of your screen should hit your eye level. Keep your chin tucked gently with
your shoulder blades together and down. To ensure neutral wrist position, adding a small towel roll under the wrist crease as you utilize
your keyboard can be helpful. Sitting far enough away from your screen to avoid eye straining and abnormal posturing is also important.
- Stay active! Exercise is key in avoiding repetitive strain symptoms.
Short but frequent breaks can make a significant difference to your work day. It is encouraged that you break to change positions every 20-30 minutes (set an alarm if need be). A combination of stretching and strength-based work can also be helpful in addressing your
posture. Below is a list of some examples of each which can be replicated at home with minimal to no equipment. Remember, the appropriate exercise for everyone differs and that these are general recommendations
- Raise your arm out to the side until it is at shoulder height and rest it on the door frame.
- The elbow should be bent at 90 degrees.
- Turn the body away from where the arm is placed in the door frame until you feel a strong
- but comfortable stretch in the chest region.
- Hold for 20-30 sec. and repeat 2-3 reps.
- Sit at the edge of your chair with your feet approximately hip width apart and turned out slightly.
- Rotate the arms so the palms are facing out and spread the fingers
- Pull your shoulders down so that your shoulders are brought away from your ears and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Keep the chin tucked.
- Hold for 15 sec. and repeat 2-3 reps.
- Lie on one side with your arms held out in front of you one on top of the other.
- Keep a pillow between the knees to stabilize the low back.
- Bring your top arm up and around to create a rotational movement in the mid back region.
- Repeat 10 repetitions each side.
- Stand in an athletic stance with your back to the wall.
- Gently bring your chin back as if to make a double chin.
- Hold your arms out in front of you holding the ends of a resistance band in each hand.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your arms apart to make the letter T.
- Hold 3-5 sec and repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Secure an exercise band in the doorway or around a stair banister.
- Hold the ends of the bands in each hand.
- You can be in sitting or standing.
- Begin with your elbows extended.
- Draw your elbows back to meet your side squeezing your shoulder blades together and
- down against the resistance of the band.
- Hold 3-5 sec and repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Use a light weight – 2-3 lbs or soup cans if you don’t have free weights.
- Hinge at the hips to come into a bent over position with an athletic stance. You can also perform this using a swiss ball as in the image included.
- Start with the arms hanging down in front of you holding your weight.
- Bring the arms up to create a Y position – come back to the start position – repeat the same coming into a T and I position always returning to the start position in between.
- Hold each position 3-5 sec and repeat 2 sets of 5 repetitions.
- There are many ways to engage the core.
- In the image included is core activation with a heel slide.
- Lie on the back with the knees bent.
- Draw your belly button towards your spine and tilt your pelvis under.
- Remember to maintain consistent breathing throughout.
- Keeping the core active, alternate sliding your heels out creating a long lever with the legs.
- Do not rotate through your trunk.
- Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions.