Simple adjustments and smart practices for how to improve posture when sitting at your home desk, with Sam Davison & Luc Mollinger, One International Towers for Worklife and Wellness@One.
With so many in the workforce having rushed to set up makeshift offices at home, in bedroom corners or at dining tables and benches – with varying degrees of sophistication – the specialist industry that seems to have done very well in 2020 are physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors.
Replicating the optimum setups for our workplaces to improve posture at home requires a bit of knowledge on our parts, though. So, we asked our wonderful Principal Physiotherapist Sam Davison from Barangaroo Orthopaedic and Sports Injury Clinic (BOSIC) to take us through the essentials. You can see it here in video form, or read the summary below.
Movement is medicine.
Our bodies are not designed to be stationary. The sedentary way in which we make our bodies sit at a desk for hours is a new phenomenon in our evolutionary story. We should be getting up from our desk and moving every 30 – 40 minutes. People often ask physiotherapists “what is the best posture to be working in?” The best posture is your next posture, because you will have had to move to get to it. Regular movement is key to good posture. Improve your movement each day by adding a few more steps in wherever you can – go the long way to the bathroom / the furthest coffee shop away / get off the bus one stop earlier / walk and talk for meetings. Drinking water, apart from keeping you hydrated, means you will also get up to refill regularly – bonus!
Standing still all day is no better than sitting all day.
You may think that standing at your desk is better for you. This is only partially true: when you stand you have a tendency to move around more. But it’s important to have variation. You should also consider the floor surface that you are standing on, including footwear, to cushion your feet.
Home essential equipment.
Set yourself up with a monitor, where the top of the screen matches your eye line. You can do this by stacking books underneath your screen to elevate it. The monitor should be arms-length away from you. Ensure the brightness and font size are such that you’re not straining or leaning in, to see.
Have a wireless or plug-in keyboard and mouse – avoid just using a laptop to type. Your hands and wrists should rest horizontally to the desk when you type.
Look straight ahead.
When you look down, you increase the load on your neck muscles five times over. Have you heard of ‘text neck’? This is when the neck is injured from constantly holding your neck in a downward/forward position. Hold your phone up to your face instead. And, as a task to keep your head up, think about having a peach resting under your chin which you cannot drop.
Get off the sofabed.
Think of the spine as an S shape, not a C shape. When we sit up in bed our spines curve into the C not the S – so avoid working on the sofa or in bed! If you are going to though, try putting a cushion behind your lower back – like the ones they provide on an airline seat – or a rolled up towel will do.
Find exercise in any way that suits you.
Walking is one of the best ‘exercises’ you can do if you’re short of time. Aim for 8,000 – 10,000 steps per day. Use your smartphone’s health data, which monitors activity levels daily with tools like a pedometer, as a guide if you don’t have a fitness tracker.
If you need to see an expert to help improve your posture, do so! The longer you wait with a developing injury, the more you suffer. BOSIC offer online consultations as well as in-clinic appointments. You can access their full range of services here.