Working From Home Can Be a Pain in the Neck (and Back): 4 Steps to Good Ergonomic Posture by Belinda Lichty Clarke

Career
a month ago
Working From Home Can Be a Pain in the Neck (and Back): 4 Steps to Good Ergonomic Posture

The majority of Americans are now under a stay-at-home mandate due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). For some, working from home is common practice, but for those who regularly go into an office, the transition to a home work space takes a little getting used to.

Thanks to Zoom and other teleconferencing platforms, virtual meetings and online interaction with colleagues is relatively easy. It’s the physical work space some of us may be having a little trouble with. Whether it’s the discomfort of working from a new home office in a windowless basement or setting up your daily work space at the dining room table, there are a few helpful tips out there.

PCmag.com published a useful article with a simple list of recommendations provided by Alan Hedge, a professor emeritus at Cornell University in the department of design and environmental analysis, for an ergonomically friendly work space. Here is a quick summary: 

  • Don’t Lean In, Stay Vertical: While you’re seated, your head should be vertical to your neck. This position creates the least amount of strain. Also, you want to make sure your screen isn’t too low. Whether using a monitor or just the laptop screen, you can use books to raise your screen to eye-level so you’re not straining your next looking down.
  • Neutral Hands: Try and keep your arms and wrists straight and in a neutral position while extending your arm and hands forward to lay flat.
  • How to Sit: Hedge advises a seated position where you can see the screen while sitting back to help support your back. And, in the absence of a proper office chair, use a cushion or pillow for lower back support.

Posture Support

While chiropractors, as least for now, have been deemed “essential” and have remained open, many people have opted to skip their adjustments during the pandemic. To improve posture, there are various products available that are designed to help re-position your shoulders as you work to prevent hunching and "tech-neck."

Former PR executive and entrepreneur Kara Froula created BackEmbrace out of her own need for better posture. “I had constant tension and strain in my upper back, neck, and shoulders,” she said. “I went to massage therapists and chiropractors, but only received temporary relief. I tried posture supports, but they were bulky, uncomfortable, irritating to the skin – and far from stylish.”

Unlike the larger posture support products sold by many chiropractors, back embrace can be worn under your clothes, or on top. The back uses a criss-cross of soft elastic straps and, like a backpack attaches below your breasts with Velcro. According to Froula, the BackEmbrace is not to be worn all day, rather on and off throughout the day.

Tailbone pain orthopedic cushions can also be helpful to ease the strain on your hips and back. Hours of chair sitting, regardless of where your home office is, can be hard on your tailbone and exacerbate sciatica pain. For many, a contoured or memory foam seat cushion does the trick. Look for a cushion that has a cut out in the middle, which helps to reduce stress on your coccyx (tailbone). A memory foam flat pillow can really help, too, especially if you don’t have a good work chair at home.

The information on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.

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Donna John
I am in desperate need of a good desk chair. Now that I am working from home more, may invest in one. Right now I'm sitting in a dining room chair from Pier 1 because it's nice to look at, not sit in. :-) Good tips on posture and how to hold your hands. I do find that the way you sit while working has a huge affect on how your body feels afterward. Belinda Lichty Clarke
Belinda Lichty Clarke
agreed.. i have been trying to find the right cushion for my dining room chair - which is not ergonomic AT ALL.
Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
Great tips and product suggestions, Belinda Lichty Clarke , thank you! I think so many of us can use this type of help right now. Ouch! :-)

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