Here’s how to maintain good posture when working from home - and avoid a sore back
Since lockdown began on 23 March, the UK’s workforce has adapted fairly quickly to working from home.
Some have even suggested that parts of working life - such as lengthy meetings - should continue remotely after the pandemic subsides.
Lockdown has certainly introduced some positives into the world of remote working, from the widespread use of video conferencing apps, to boosted productivity for those with more peaceful abodes.
However, working from your sofa isn't all it's cracked up to be - especially after several weeks of it.
For those who work at computers, one downside to working from home is the onset of back ache, due to the lack of health and safety approved office equipment.
So, before you head to your garden bench, your kitchen stool or your bed to start a new day at the ‘office’, take a look at this crucial advice from the NHS on maintaining good posture while you work.
Support your back
Ensuring your lower back is properly supported, wherever you sit, is of utmost importance when attempting to avoid back pain.
Ideally, you should be sitting on an office chair while working at a computer, as these offer sufficient back support and allow you to change the height, back position and tilt according to your needs.
Unfortunately, not everyone owns an office chair and not every company is supplying their workers with these during lockdown.
So, if you don't have an adjustable office chair, try to use one that positions your knees slightly below your hips when sitting, and use a cushion to support your lower back as best as you can.
Place your screen at eye level
You should place your screen directly in front of you, about an arm's length away, and with the top of the screen roughly at eye level.
If your screen is too high or too low, it will cause you to bend your neck, which can be uncomfortable and cause back and neck ache.
This may be easy for people working with monitors, but not so straightforward for those working on their laptops.
If you are working on a laptop, try using a laptop stand to elevate the screen to the correct level, and use a separate keyboard so you don't strain your wrists while typing.
Have the keyboard straight in front of you
In addition to this, you should keep your keyboard in front of you whilst typing.
Ensure you have a gap of 4 to 6 inches at the front of the desk to allow your wrists to rest when you aren't typing.
If your keyboard is too far away from you, you will be more inclined to lean forward which can strain your back after a long period of time.
Make objects easy to reach
Try to place your frequently used objects, such as your pen, stapler, or mobile phone within easy reach.
This will help you to avoid repeatedly twisting or stretching to reach things, which can strain your back muscles.
Don't cross your legs
Crossing your legs can lead to posture-related problems, so instead place your feet flat on the floor.
If your chair is too high, and not adjustable, try using a footrest, to help you keep your feet flat.
Use a headset
If you use the phone a lot for work, exchanging your handset for a headset could be very beneficial for both your neck and back.
If you find yourself constantly cradling the phone between your ear and your shoulder, this could cause injury to the muscles in your neck.
This posture can cause strain to the neck, upper back and shoulder muscles and other soft tissues.
It also often leads to muscle imbalances between the left and right side of your neck.
Take regular breaks
Finally, make sure you take frequent short breaks away from your desk while at work, rather than the occasional long break.
This is because frequent short breaks are more effective at helping you avoid back ache, as your muscles aren't held in one position for too long.