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How changing working postures throughout the day can minimize discomfort

How changing working postures throughout the day can minimize discomfort

Couch Position

We are starting our second month of working from home.  Hopefully some have hit a groove and are loving the home life; however, we know there are others still struggling to find the best home office set up.

In this post I highlight my top three home office setups, and how you might alternate between them to keep yourself feeling comfortable throughout your workday.

Your Body Needs a Variety of Working Postures

I recommend you aim for about half of your day sitting upright, for many this is the kitchen or dining room table, then split the rest of the day alternating between standing and sitting in a comfier spot.

Some people like to change posture depending on task, while others prefer to set a timer; but regardless of how you decide to break up your day, changing frequently between different postures is the key to minimizing static and awkward postures, which can be fatiguing for our bodies and may put us at risk for injury.

Create a Few Workstation Options

1. Upright Sitting

Working at the kitchen table is an obvious choice for many of us. Often it is higher than ideal for typing and mousing, which can result in shoulder elevation and awkward wrist posture throughout the workday.  Use a couple pillows, towels or even a lawn chair cushion to raise yourself up so your relaxed elbows are positioned at the same height as the keyboard and mouse.  The cushion or towels will also provide some much-needed padding against the hard surface of the chair.  If your feet aren’t firmly on the ground, make sure you use a footrest to provide a stable base when seated.  You can be creative here as well; a book, box, or crate can all work quite well to help you maintain good ‘Big 3‘ (link) seated posture.   After an hour or so of sitting, even with the best ergonomic set up, your body wants to move.  So, move!  Stand up, do a couple shoulder rolls or follow our home office shoulders and upper back exercise routine to help reinforce the “shoulders anchored” concept of the ‘Big 3’ Seated Posture.

2. Standing Desk.

After your refresh break, move your laptop over to the kitchen counter and stand for 10-15 minutes. If you can, shift your keyboard and mouse with you as well.  Keep a shoebox or two on your counter for the day, so you can easily shift to this new posture with minimal intrusion to your work tasks.   But, don’t stand for too long.  Here is a  good rule of thumb – if you are wondering if you should invest in a cushioned mat to stand on, then it’s time to sit back down!  That said, I usually recommend wearing slippers or a clean pair of running shoes, to provide a bit of support and cushioning while standing.

3. Reclined Sitting

The last position is the couch, or a soft living room style of chair. This is okay for short durations and works great for reading or a video conference but isn’t ideal if you are doing a lot of typing and mousing.  Make sure you are sitting relatively upright and try to keep your head positioned over your shoulders, you will need to open the laptop up, so the screen is easier to see, and you need to look down with your eyes more than bending your head down toward the screen.

Move Often

Every time you transition between your different workstations, remember the need for movement; head upstairs to use the washroom, or downstairs to make a cup of coffee.  Do another refresh exercise; try our lower back and hip exercises to increase blood flow and aid in tissue recovery.

Summary

It’s a good idea to have home office workstation options – just make sure you sit or stand with good posture in all scenarios.  You know you are sitting well when your shoulder blades are in contact with the back of your chair.  As much as possible make sure you get up frequently and move!

Every situation and workstation is unique, if you are struggling with optimizing your home office set up, you  may benefit from an individual assessment.  We offer remote assessments that address your concerns with practical tips on adapting existing furniture as well as economical recommendations for specialized office equipment to suit a variety of needs.

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