The coronavirus outbreak has seen small business owners and employees across the country make the transition to working from home. For the first few days, this change may have been exciting, confusing or a bit of a novelty for many. That said, it’s an important change to daily life that the whole country is making with one goal in mind: to protect the NHS and save lives.
Realising that working from home could last longer than planned, or become the new ‘normal’, people are looking to upgrade their home-office environments and make their work stations comfortable. So, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips that you could use to improve your posture and take a weight off your shoulders, literally. But, first, let’s explore why posture is important and how you can take better care of yourself.
Perfect posture doesn’t exist. That said, there are some general rules and guidelines that can help you work towards maintaining a good posture. For seated posture, this mainly means sitting in a way that doesn’t either put too much pressure on your joints or engage your muscles all of the time.
Good posture means that you’re taking care of your health by minimising the damage that can be caused to your body by sitting in the same space in an uncomfortable way, for probably much longer than you know that you should.
There’s a psychological element to posture, too. If you’re able to fully get ‘into the zone’ and concentrate on your work while forgetting about your surroundings, then you’re likely to be more productive and creative. This is much harder to achieve when you’re in pain or uncomfortable- and aware of it.
For the reasons above, here are our five posture tips that we hope will help you feel comfortable throughout your working day.
It may be difficult to purchase a brand new office chair with the surge in demand brought about by coronavirus. That said, the chair you sit on day-in, day-out has a huge impact on your posture. So, try to look for a chair with ergonomic qualities where possible- meaning that it’s designed to give you the support you need when seated, and that it’s adjustable.
Things to look out for include lumbar support (normally a small cushion that supports your lower back) and a cushioned seat. Ideally your chair can be raised or lowered so that you can adjust yourself to sit comfortably at a desk.
For a business owner, upgrading office chairs and equipment for your team can be a nice way of showing your staff that you’re looking out for them. And, who doesn’t want a more motivated team?
Loosely speaking, it’s healthy to shape your body into some right angles while you’re sitting at your desk. Having your calves at 90° to your thighs, your thighs at 90° to your body, and your forearms at 90° to your biceps, while typing, is desirable.
You can adjust your desk height to make sure that your hands are flat while you’re typing, which should help, too. Also, try to keep your eyes level with the top of your screen. This could help you avoid prolonged neck-tilt which can cause a lot of pain.
The NHS has a fantastic guide on this, and it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t try too hard to maintain an exact posture. Relaxing is a part of proper posture, so if you’re always tensing your muscles constantly to keep a certain seated position, you may be doing it wrong.
One of the more popular posture exercises for office workers is simply taking a break. Getting up and moving around for five minutes roughly once per hour could see you feeling looser and more relaxed.
As an employer, you can make sure that your employees don’t feel bad about doing this when in the office, too, by reassuring them that it’s okay to take breaks. If you’re struggling to think of a reason to take a break despite knowing that you probably should, then perhaps you could try making a coffee run, or ‘breaking out’ to work in a different environment for a while.
Have you heard of the 20-20-20 rule? The idea is simple; for every twenty minutes you spend looking at a screen, look twenty feet away, for twenty seconds.
How come? When you’re staring at a screen for long periods of time, you may often forget to blink. This could leave your eyes dehydrated, which can lead to eye-strain. The 20-20-20 rule is a great way of helping to avoid this, and standing up while doing it can even count as a mini-break to give your posture that extra little bit of care and attention.
If you find that you’ll struggle to remember to take a quick break that often, using a productivity app could be a great solution. By automating that reminder, you could find yourself building a habit that will protect your eyes from harm in the long run.
Just as with any muscle group in your body- making repeated actions over long periods of time without properly stretching can cause tension- which makes your muscles prone to damage. This is as true for someone working out at the gym as it is for someone sitting at home, typing on a laptop.
A tip for how to improve your posture, then, is to learn some fundamental stretches that can release tension in your hands and forearms. Adarsh Williams’ video is a great visual guide to how this can be done.
Bending your fingers back gently and curling your wrists are great examples of exercises to improve your posture. If you do these alongside taking regular breaks, you may be less likely to run into health complications such as repetitive strain injury or arthritis in the long run.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that self-care is incredibly important. Share this knowledge with your colleagues and friends, and maybe you’ll help make their day-to-day lives more comfortable in a way they could not have predicted. We wish you all the best throughout the current crisis- keep washing your hands, stay safe and look after yourself.