Working from home definitely has its perks. Employees across the state are cutting down on commute times, saving money on gas (and morning coffees), and spending more time with the loved ones they are quarantined with. However, eliminating commutes, transitioning to a makeshift work-from-home setup, and sitting for longer periods of time can have serious impacts on activity levels, mobility, and posture. Couple this with gym closures and our bodies are being delivered a one-two punch resulting in physical ailments like neck stiffness, back pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions.
Enter Dr. Jorge Giral. Giral is a physical and manual therapist, as well as the clinical manager at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Florida. Here, he shares five tips on maintaining posture at your home office setup and some seriously good mobility moves to help keep the body strong:
- Use the Right Set Up When Sitting for Long Periods of Time: If you’re using a desk or table, make sure your computer monitor is at eye level or just below and that your chair height is set so that when you bend your elbows to ninety degrees, your hands fall comfortably onto the keyboard. Be sure to sit straight against the backrest of your chair to support your lower back while ensuring that the front of the seat doesn’t press on your knees.
- Find Ways to Keep Moving Throughout the Day: While working and social distancing, you may be sitting for longer periods of time than normal. Stand up, walk around, and stretch areas you feel tight every 20 minutes. This will promote general circulation and give your eyes a break from your screen.
- Add Stretching and Strengthening Exercises to Your Daily Routine: Adding just a few minutes of stretching and strengthening to your day can help maintain musculoskeletal health while working remotely. Perform total body workouts– I suggest focusing on exercises that work on your core, upper and lower extremities. Allow for proper recovery in between training sessions and complete a comprehensive stretching routine at the end of each workout. Visit HSS’s new platform, HSS Feel Better From Home, for additional exercises and content to help you stay active and avoid injury from home.
- Counteract Shoulder Pain with Foam Rolling: After a long day of working on a laptop, use a foam roller to help stretch and mobilize three key areas: the muscles along the anterior chest wall, the latissimus dorsi (a.k.a. “lats”), and the thoracic spine.
- Strengthen Your Core to Promote Good Posture: Maintaining good posture while working from home has everything to do with the strength of your core and proper body awareness. A healthy core will help you sit upright naturally and avoid pain or stiffness in your upper and low back. Core exercises you can do at home include planks, dead bug, bird-dog, and anti-rotation core exercises.