For many of my patients, the Coronavirus has meant working on your computer at home. While most of you don’t have in-home offices to spread out in while you work from home for the foreseeable future, there are still ways to be smart about your spine from 9 to 5.
A bad setup could result in “tech neck” — the headaches and spasms you get from too much hunching. But there are ways to make sure you don’t end up pulling your neck out of alignment every day.
Here are a few tips to maintain good posture while working from home:
Get off the couch
Although it might be tempting to splay out on your sectional, working from your sofa is one of the worst things you can do for your long-term back health. I have never seen anyone be able to maintain both their cervical and lumbar curves while sitting on any kind of couch for extended periods of time.
Maintain spine health by going for a chair or a barstool during working hours. If you are using a barstool you will need to prop up your feet; use a box, stack up some books or turn your laundry basket upside down to rest your feet on.
Make your own standing desk
Even if you’re sitting, you might need to elevate your computer. The middle of your screen should be in line with your eyes while you’re working, not below. Some no-no spots for your laptop? Never use your laptop on your lap and definitely not on your coffee table. Instead, your laptop should be elevated approximately 6 to 12 inches above your desk. Use books or boxes to get to that sweet spot.
Cabin fever might have you rearranging all of your furniture, but I suggest setting up a workspace in your home and staying put. Once you start thinking you can work from bed, it’s all over. Be consistent with where your designated workspace. That way you won’t slip when it comes to elevating your screen and sitting up in a real chair.
Take breaks from your screen
Limiting screen time might be out of the question while working from home, but you should still step away for five minutes once every hour of screen time. Beyond checking the fridge or walking your dog, five minutes of standing up and walking around will reset your body’s natural position and prevent you from getting comfortable in the wrong position.