There are a higher number of people working from home than ever before, and with that comes new work environments. Reclining on the couch while performing tasks that would usually require you to be wearing a suit and sitting in an office may have felt good at the start, but more and more people are feeling the effects of low back pain or neck pain which can all be traced back to how we are sitting at home.
Setting up your COVID-19 workstation:
The position that you sit in is important, especially if you are in that position for long periods of time.
The ideal sitting position includes the following:
- Hips bent at 90 degrees with your thighs parallel to the ground.
- Knees bent at 90 degrees, ensuring that your feet are flat on the ground (or on a box).
- Bring your chair close to the desk so that your arms can be relaxed by your side with your elbows bent at 90 degrees to reach the keyboard.
- Keep your head directly over your shoulders.
- Position the top of your screen so it is level with your eyes and you don’t have to look too far down to see what you’re working on.
Most importantly, take regular breaks from what you are doing to stand up, stretch and reset your posture.
If you are unsure how to adjust your work environment, or are already experiencing pain related to your COVID-19 posture, call our physiotherapy team for a postural assessment or treatment.
Exercises to help keep your back COVID-19 safe
Even with perfect posture, sitting in one position for a long time can cause stiffness and pain in the neck, shoulders and back. The best way to resolve this is to take regular breaks where you get up and move away from your desk (and you should definitely do this!) however, for those deadlines that just don’t wait, our physiotherapy team has put together a group of exercises that can be done at the desk to loosen your muscles and reset your posture.
Neck stretching in a chair
Begin sitting upright in a chair. Rest one hand on the back of your head and the other on your forehead.
Using your hands to guide your head, gently rotate your head to one side. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat.
Tip: Make sure not to bend your head down as you perform the stretch. Do not move through pain.
Seated spinal rotation in your chair
Begin sitting upright in a chair. Cross your arms in front of you, placing one arm on each shoulder.
Slowly rotate your trunk to one side as far as it will go, then return to centre and rotate to the other side.
Shoulder extension behind the chair
Begin sitting in an upright position with your arms resting at your sides.
Slowly raise your arms backward as far as you can without arching your back, keeping your elbows straight and palms facing inward.
EXTRA: If you can, bring your hands together behind the chair to further stretch the front of your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds.
Begin sitting upright.
Bring one arm across your chest and place your other hand on your opposite shoulder. Pull your arm further toward your chest and hold for 20 seconds.
Tip: Make sure not to shrug your shoulders during the exercise, and only apply gentle pressure.
Stand in an upright position in the centre of a doorway.
With your elbows bent, place your forearms on the sides of the doorway at a 90-degree angle.
Take a small step forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
Tip: Do not shrug your shoulders during the exercise.
NOTE: While the last exercise does require getting up from the desk, it is excellent for counteracting all those long hours sitting at a computer.
If you are experiencing difficulty performing these exercises, are having pain associated with your posture or working from home, or are interested in some more exercises to improve your posture, contact our physiotherapy team at Southside Physiotherapy on 9527 4099.