Laptops and DIY workstations are pivotal to a freelancer’s life, but they can also take their toll on your posture. And today, with more people than ever enjoying the “work from home” (WFH) lifestyle, there has been a notable rise in the number of neck and back issues, which is why we need WFH posture tips. These not only make working unpleasant but can have long-term effects on your health and overall quality of life.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your posture while working from home. By following these 5 simple suggestions, you can help yourself establish healthier working habits and combat the dreaded WFH slouch.
Raise your screen to eye level
WIth most remote work being done on the computer, people are finding themselves sitting in front of screens for longer than usual—often without the full ergonomic setup most offices offer. A proper work setup can help combat posture problems and stiffness that sitting for long periods can cause. According to experts on WFH posture tips, the optimal setup consists of raising your screen to eye level, to avoid craning your neck downwards, and placing your keyboard and mouse below your elbows, to alleviate pressure on your forearms and wrists. If you’re working with a laptop, try elevating your screen using a stack of books or a box, and investing in an external keyboard and mouse to get the recommended position.
Align your lower body
It’s not just your screen and keyboard positioning that can be optimized for posture: maintaining proper alignment of your lower body while you work can make a big difference in the long run. Whether you’re sitting at a desk or your dining table, your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees should be in line with your hips. Adjustable office chairs are ideal for achieving this (since they can be raised and lowered), but if you don’t have access to one, try using a cushion or a stack of books to adjust your lower body placement until it’s just right.
Support your lumbar
Perhaps no part of the human back accumulates more pressure while sitting than the lower spine (aka the lumbar spine). Show it some love by providing extra support, which is one of our most important WFH posture tips. Ergonomic office chairs are a great option because they are designed to curve inwards and support the lumbar region. Of course, not all of us have office-grade equipment at the ready, so here are a couple of alternatives. Roll up a bath towel into a short cylinder and use elastics or string to secure its shape. From there, simply place the roll between the back of your chair and your lower back. A small (ideally log-shaped) pillow can be used to the same effect. You can also help your lower spine by integrating lumbar stretches into your day, such as “child’s pose” or “cat-cow”.
Get up and move around
One of the most important steps to maintaining good posture when working from home is to get up and move regularly. Keeping the body in any static position for a long time will start to cause pressure and strain. Getting up from your workstation every 20-30 minutes—even if it’s just for two minutes—will get your blood flowing and help to take pressure off your spine. To integrate some activity into your work day, take your phone calls standing up, or set an alarm every 30 minutes to remind yourself to get up and walk around or stretch.
Listen to your body
Perhaps the most important step of all when fixing your posture is to listen to your body. If you have been sitting in the same position for hours—even if your body is perfectly aligned—your back, arms, or legs can still start to hurt. When this happens, switch it up. That could mean making a small adjustment to your seated position, or making a bigger change, like moving to a different seated location, or standing up while you work. A convertible standing desk is a great option for changing your work position regularly, but again not all of us have the equipment handy. Instead, you can prop your screen and keyboard up on a stack of books or boxes so that you can work standing up when your body needs a break from sitting.
Ultimately, by making these adjustments to your WFH routine, you’ll be taking small, but important steps towards improving your posture. Even if you don’t have a formal office setup at home, aligning your body with your computer screen, supporting your lower back, and integrating some movement into your day can help keep neck and back pain at bay, and reduce the impact of poor posture on your long-term health.