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  • Writer's pictureSwapnali Chaudhary

Working from home during the pandemic? Then, you must read this!

Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Work station setup

Poor Posture is never deliberate. No one consciously maintains a poor posture. It most often results from unawareness of the body when you get busy performing those important daily activities. You realize the problem only when you start showing signs or having symptoms like neck cramps, back pain, aching knees or sore heels and a general limitation of movement. Poor posture gets worse overtime if ignored, causing soft tissue problems, muscle imbalances, altered joint biomechanics, and injury/irritation of spinal structures and joints.

Good Posture is the ‘cornerstone’ of Fitness and “Prevention is the key“.

Ergonomics is the science of studying your work environment, designing the equipment at your workplace and customizing it to your needs to be able to maintain a good posture for better performance, better health and to increase your productivity. If you have a sedentary job that involves sitting for long hours at work, Ergonomics plays a cardinal role in your health. If you are aware of the significance that Ergonomics has in the prevention of back injury and its profoundness for good health, you can make the necessary changes and feel the drastic difference.

Good Posture refers to the correct alignment of the spine, to reinforce its natural ‘S-shaped’ curve. It needs to be addressed in all positions: lying down, sitting and standing. Most of us know, how vital it is, to maintain a good posture at all times but yes, “It’s easier said, than done”. Sometimes, people have an incorrect understanding of the ‘Correct’ Posture. Listed below are the details to maintain a good posture in various positions:

  • Lying down: The position of the spine when you are asleep is considerably important because you don’t want your spine to be in the ‘wrong’ position for 7-8 hours straight. Yes, people don’t sleep in the same position for 8 hours but, you want to position yourself correctly during sleep to cause minimum strain on the spine, esp. if you already are a victim of the ‘Back Pain’. Firstly, you want to make sure that the surface that you sleep on, is ‘firm’. That means, it should not be too hard or too soft. Secondly, the thickness of your pillow has to be such that your head is ‘in line with your spine’ in that respective position (face-up or side-lying). Usually, it’s the shoulder distance (the distance between the side of your head and your shoulder in, your preferred sleeping position). Here are a few positioning tips in the three sleeping positions:

  1. Supine/face up position: Use of a ‘Correct-thickness’ pillow under your neck, a towel-roll in the small of your back, 1-2 pillows under your thighs/knees.

  2. Side lying: Again, use a correct thickness pillow, one pillow between the knees (to make sure the hips are in line) and making sure the arm is not tucked under the head/pillow (to avoid any rotation at the shoulders). Probably, one pillow behind the back to prevent rolling.

  3. Prone/face down position: one pillow under the abdomen/belly, one pillow under your shins and a ‘prone positioning pillow’ for the face. I would not recommend the prone position for long periods of time though.

  • Sitting:

  1. You need to make sure that you have a lumbar support for your chair. If not, you could place a lumbar roll or a towel roll in the small of your back in the sitting position.

  2. Your feet need to be supported flat on the floor or rested on a foot rest.

  3. Arms should be parallel to the floor and resting on arm-rests/work surface.

  4. Back support of the chair needs to be at 105 degree angle to the seat.

  5. Make sure that your back and shoulders are completely relaxed.

  6. Calves/the back of your legs need to be at 90-110 degree angle to the back of the thighs.

  7. Sit back with thighs completely supported on the seat.

  8. The top of the computer screen should be at the eye level.

  9. Get up and walk or stretch for a few minutes, every 30-60 min. This is so critical because ‘prolonged sitting’ is going to stress the structures that support the spine, due to forward leaning and slouching that does happen every now and then, no matter how careful you are.

  10. When you are on the phone, avoid cradling the phone between your ear and your shoulder for a long time. Using head-sets would be a good idea!

  • Standing:

  1. Tuck in your chin (Avoid forward head posture)

  2. Pull your shoulder blades towards your back pockets and relax the shoulders (Avoid shoulder shrug/elevation)

  3. Make sure that when you are standing, the weight is distributed midway between the balls of your feet and the heels.

  4. Pull your shoulder blades towards your back pockets and relax the shoulders (Avoid shoulder shrug/elevation)ng your belly button towards your spine (Do not hold your breath),

  5. Unlock those knees (Avoid hyperextension at the knee joint) and there you are!

  6. It definitely takes practice and being cognizant, to maintain a good posture with a neutral spine at all times.

Use good Body Mechanics at all times: Make it a Habit!

  • When you have to lift something heavy, make sure that you hold it close to your body. This will avoid the undue tension on your spine.

  • If you want to lift something off the floor, do the ‘Golfer’s lift’.

  • Keep your back straight at all times. To pick something up, ‘squat’ (bend at the hips and the knees) and use those leg muscles instead of bending (at the waist/back) and causing injury to the spinal structures.

  • Try to minimize twisting. Most of us know, that twisting is terrible for the back. Twisting while lifting weight is atrocious. Yes, there are a few ‘spinal twist stretches’ but they need to be done carefully while implementing the correct technique and only if recommended by your healthcare professional after evaluating any injury that you may have.

  • When standing and bending to perform daily activities (e.g. at the kitchen sink/wash basin), keep one foot on a step and feel the difference.

  • In order to move an object, always ‘push’ instead of pull.

  • Learn a few stretches to keep the spinal irritation at bay and to avoid fatigue.

What to avoid?

  • Avoid carrying heavy hand-bags. If you have to carry it all, use a backpack with 2 straps so that the weight is distributed equally on both shoulders.

  • Avoid wearing heels, esp. stilettos, because they throw the Center of gravity out of alignment, leading to postural disorders overtime.

  • Avoid reaching in high places as it puts intense strain on the back. Use a ‘Reacher’ or a choose a ‘right size ladder’ for the task.

  • Avoid sitting with legs crossed for a long duration as it is bound to lead to spinal distress.

  • Avoid doing exercises (any, that you may be doing), incorrectly. Make sure that you are educated/guided properly on the correct technique by a healthcare professional. You don’t want any exacerbation of previous injuries to occur and you don’t want any new afflictions to take shape!

If the Poor Posture is not fixed within a reasonable amount of time, the wear and tear of the spine doesn’t stop and its a back injury waiting to happen!

Now, that you're empowered with this information, make these changes - The control is in your hands!

If you're having any symptoms secondary to prolonged incorrect posture, call us on 512-200-3945 to schedule a free discovery session at Quintessence Physical Therapy! We're here to help you!

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1 Comment

andrew Williaims
andrew Williaims
Nov 23, 2022

Really this is useful for work from home people.

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