These are strange times aren’t they? With a huge number of people now working from home and no obvious end to it, it’s an odd feeling as a Physio knowing we can’t help people to stay healthy.
Sitting at home and using a laptop for hours on end whilst at the dining table or on the sofa or even a makeshift desk is very likely to cause neck and back pain. The fact of the matter is, you simply can’t put yourself in a good position when using a laptop.
There are endless blogs that have popped up recommending how to set up your home workstation, but most people will find this difficult as they simply don’t have the right equipment to set up well.
How to stay pain free when working at home
So, there is one simple bit of advice that out weighs all others. Move regularly. Even when you’re in work, even with all the right equipment, then most people should move more than they do. There are a couple of sayings that ring true. One is “Your best posture is your next posture”. Basically, it doesn’t matter if you have the best posture ever, without movement, you’ll still get problems.
The other saying is “motion is lotion”. Keeping moving is the best way to keep your joints happy and your muscles relaxed and not overly tight. Sitting for long periods in one position, even a good one, just isn’t good for your body. It wasn’t designed to spend long periods not moving.
Top tips for staying healthy whilst working from home
- Move: As we’ve said, regular movement is key. Every 20-30 minutes look left and right 10 times, and pull your shoulders right back, hold for 5 seconds and relax
- Try to find a seat that will allow you to put the laptop on a table or desk so that the laptop is stable. Working on your lap is never going to allow you to be in a very good position
- Avoid looking downwards for long periods. If you having been looking down either at the laptop or paper, then look up to the ceiling every 20-30 minutes too. Do it a few times
- Take regular breaks to stand up, grab a drink and walk around the house
- Try to break the day up with some form of exercise. With our exercise options limited, the temptation is to sit, even when you’re not working. If you add that time to the time you’re sleeping, and some people will barely be moving at all at the moment. Clearly that’s not good for you
- Keep well hydrated: being dehydrated can lead to more muscle soreness, but when you’re out of your normal routine in work, it’s easy to forget simple things like drinking enough water
- Split your work up into blocks of 25-30 minutes to improve focus and performance, and avoid mental fatigue
- Look away from your screen and focus on something further away at least every 30 minutes to reduce strain on your eyes (which in turn reduces headaches)