It goes without saying the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. But for those of us lucky enough to transition from our once physical workspace over to an online medium, you've likely noticed a dramatic increase in screen time.
From countless Zoom calls to hours spent collaborating on a Google Doc, you've probably been hunched over a keyboard more than usual—and your posture isn't what it once was. With no return date in sight, these often-painful effects will be amplified as we exit the summer months and start to spend more time indoors as the weather gets cooler and days get shorter.
But just because the gym is closed and you're working from home doesn't mean you can't take steps to protect your posture and remain physically fit. We listed a few ways to help prevent the "slouch" when working from home—and remember, consistency is key.
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How to Sit Properly
First and foremost, let's start with the fundamentals. Be mindful of how you're positioned (and how long you're sitting for) when sitting at your desk. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your legs (from your hips) should also be at a 90-degree angle. Keep your core engaged, and roll back your shoulders. Keep your chin parallel to the ground (raise your computer screen so you aren't looking too far down). Your wrists should be resting on a pad in front of your keyboard with your arms slightly extended and your elbows slightly bent (don't bend them past 90 degrees).
It's important to keep things moving when you're adopting a work-from-home lifestyle. Even through gyms and studios are closed, simple yoga poses that emphasize back mobility and strength are easy enough to do from the living room. We've put together the 10 best yoga poses for lower back pain, five yoga poses for people who sit too much and eight yoga poses for tight hips to help; a simple 30 minutes of yoga and stretching a day can make a world of difference.
We've already mentioned that a pad below your wrist is a good idea, but there are other workstation accessories that can help protect your posture. A stand-up desk is a great way to mix things up whether you want to stand for 15 minutes every hour, or just raise your computer up while still sitting in your chair. Although not adjustable, a yoga ball desk chair naturally helps engage the core while sitting, and a second monitor and wireless keyboard make it easy to customize your position if you're using a laptop. If your office chair isn't the perfect fit, consider adding a lumbar support pillow or under-desk foot rests.
Apps for Posture
As opposite as it sounds, there are several apps available that help promote a healthy posture. Probably the most popular, Upright, is a small, wearable device that sticks directly to your upper back that pairs with the app for immediate posture feedback. You'll notice trends on how long you're slouched over, and the device will vibrate every time your posture is less-than-ideal.
Sitting too long can lead to a variety of negative health effects, including increased blood pressure, excess body fat and high blood sugar. Maintaining a healthy diet while working from home is important, but for the sake of your posture, taking regular breaks from sitting is just as important. Stand up every 30 minutes and walk around (not always to the fridge, mind you)—throw in a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, take the dogs for a walk or do anything else that gets you up and moving; increasing blood circulation and back mobility is what we're going for here.
Your spinal health is directly tied to your core strength, and when sitting for weeks on end behind a desk, that's one of the first things to go (which can lead to a whole host of problems). Here we've put together three core exercises to strengthen your back, three back exercises for women and 13 essential core exercises for runners (or should we say, "work-from-home-ers"). Do them in complete sets, or split the workout and tackle a few reps when you stand up every 30 minutes throughout the day.
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