Ditch The Back Pain: How To Sit Properly While Working From Home

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4 Mins Read

With a third of the global population now officially on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, potentially hundreds of millions of us (if we are lucky enough!) are now working from home. Many of us are already aware that sitting for extended periods is not great for our health, but what we may not realise is that sitting with incorrect posture or in the wrong position is even more dire for our body, from affecting our spinal alignment to causing headaches and pains. Now that we’re working remotely and might not have the ideal workspace environment, it’s important that we take extra care to practice proper sitting etiquette to avoid the negative side effects.

Below is a guide on how to sit properly and advice to minimise back, neck and hip pains created by Hong Kong-based physiotherapy clinic Joint Dynamics and shared on their Facebook page (see original post here). Founders Andrew Cox and Colin Symmonds offer a multidisciplinary approach to injury rehabilitation and personal training, combining physiotherapy and chiropractic manual therapy, movement training and personal training to treat injuries, develop movement skills and build stronger bodies. They help rehabilitate and train some of the city’s foremost athletes, as well as regular people like us, so when we saw these detailed guidelines, we had to reach out and ask them if we could share it. Hopefully you will find it as helpful as we do.

What happens to your body after a period of sitting down?

Source: Andrew Cox and Colin Symmonds / Joint Dynamics

Fig 1: You look lovely, all upright and poised for success! But the pesky laptop screen is too low, and you have to strain and look down to see it.

Source: Andrew Cox and Colin Symmonds / Joint Dynamics

Fig 2: Even before 10 minutes are up, your pelvis rolls back, lower back flexes forward, upper neck goes back into extension and pressure increases in your lower back, shoulders and neck.

Here’s what you need to do:

Source: Andrew Cox and Colin Symmonds / Joint Dynamics

Fig 3: The priority is to stop your pelvis from rolling backwards. Try putting a pillow behind your back and wedge yourself into it.

Source: Andrew Cox and Colin Symmonds / Joint Dynamics

Fig 4: Raising your screen will make it easier to see, but it can make you overuse your shoulder.

Source: Andrew Cox and Colin Symmonds / Joint Dynamics

Fig 5: Optimally, you need a separate mouse and keyboard. This allows you to have the screen at a comfortable height and minimise neck and shoulder pain.

  • Get a separate mouse and keyboard
  • Raise your screen
  • Use a pillow

What else can you do to minimise chronic pain/issues?

  • Take a break every 45 minutes – after 2 hours of sitting, your lower discs lose 10% of their height.
  • Do some exercise every couple of hours.
  • Make a makeshift standing desk so you can alternate position.
  • Start and finish your day with a regular exercise session.
  • Reduce your anxiety by scheduling meditation, distraction, listening to a podcast.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Join Joint Dynamic’s Morning Movement Medicine: a free full body workout session hosted on FB Live at 8.30am HK time daily – join from anywhere on their Facebook page.

Find more Covid-19 tips and our earlier news coverage here.


Lead image courtesy of Aleksandr Davydov / 123rf.


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