In these unprecedented times many will find themselves working from home. A few adaptations to your work station may make all the difference in helping your back and preventing pain.
Always take the time to adjust your chair, particularly if you share your computer with others, in particular if your children are “borrowing” your computer!
Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground, your knees bent, but with a slope from your hips to your knees. You should end up with your hips higher than your knees and your eyes level with the top third of the computer screen. You may need to put the screen on a stand or even on a ream of paper to bring it to the right height.
Relax when sitting into your chair, a few small changes can make a big difference, try making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades are touching the back rest of the chair. If this proves uncomfortable then try to sit on the edge of the seat or fold a hand towel and place the hand towel underneath your thighs, this will allow your pelvis to tilt slightly forward, relieving any strain on your lower back.
Arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. Use a seat with arm rests as long as the arms rests go under the desk, if not then remove the arm rests and relax your forearms on the desk.
Take regular breaks. Never sit at the computer for more than 20-30 minutes; less if possible
When you do take a break, walk around and stretch a little; do something completely different. Remove any obstacles from under your desk to ensure you have enough leg room.
On the move in the house or out and about with a laptop: The portability of a laptop makes it very convenient and flexible to use, but it is tempting to use them in situations where you might be in an awkward position. You may not realise that you are in an uncomfortable or potentially pain inducing position if you are concentrating on what you are doing. If you are using a laptop, invest in a stand to put it on (or use a ream of paper or another object). This ensures the screen is at eye level. For laptops used in the home, it is a good idea to buy a normal keyboard and mouse and use these instead of the ones provided by the laptop. This makes it much easier to use the laptop in a more ‘back friendly manner’. Consider buying or asking for a headset if you are on the phone for prolonged or frequent periods, really avoid propping the phone between your neck and shoulder and alternate ears as much as possible.
With the increase in the need to attend online meetings a set of ear phones can help to improve your posture by optimising the sound quality of your meeting and allow you to adopt an ideal posture for your head and shoulders. Try and avoid slouching in meetings online, you can play with the tilt of the screen and the camera angle to enable your posture to be kept and to allow the viewer to still be able to see you.