How to Improve Your Posture While Working From Home
Right now, more people are working from home in an effort to practice social distancing and slow the progression of COVID-19. And while essential workers like nurses, doctors and grocery store employees are still going in to work (and we thank them for it!), those who are able to work from home might be experiencing neck or back pain due to poor posture.
If you're used to working in an office, your home setup might look very different from what you—and your body—are used to. Instead of a desk, you might find yourself hunched over the kitchen table, propped up on the couch with your laptop or sharing limited space with roommates or your partner.
Whatever the situation, it's important to practice good posture. We talked to Dr. Jan Lefkowitz, a chiropractor in New York City and the founder of Body in Balance Chiropractic, to discuss the importance of proper posture, how it affects your health and how to maintain it while working from home. Here's what you need to know.
Poor Posture Can Cause Pain
When you have bad posture, it means your body is in an abnormal shape. Dr. Lefkowitz says that abnormal shape "creates stress points throughout your body." Those stress points are what lead to long-term problems like pain, inflammation and possible injuries.
Poor posture can also lead to tension headaches. You might not realize it, but when your head slouches forward it puts the upper part of your neck into a hyperextended (read: strained) position. Dr. Lefkowitz says, "That [position] creates pressure and compression," which can lead to a painful tension headache. An easy way to combat this is to make sure your screen is at eye level. Try using this monitor riser to help prevent your neck and head from straining forward. (Bed Bath & Beyond, $32)
Be Aware of Your Whole Body
When people think about posture, they often focus on straightening their back and neck. While those two areas are important, Dr. Lefkowitz says that proper posture actually starts with your lower back and pelvis. The position of your pelvis impacts what the rest of the body does. He advises using a lumbar support, which he says will help maintain the natural inward curve of your lower back and keep your pelvis in the proper position.
"This will help the rest of your body fall into the proper position and prevent slouching," Dr. Lefkowitz says. (Try out this lumbar support pillow from Bed Bath & Beyond for $18)
Move Your Body
One issue that can arise with poor posture and prolonged sitting is a condition called ligamentous creep. To combat this, Dr. Lefkowitz recommends doing a quick stretch called the Bruegger's Relief Position, which he says will help reset your posture and can be easily done at your desk. Learn how to do a proper Bruegger's Relief Position here.
The Bottom Line
Your posture affects your nervous system, and one inflamed area could cause a lot of pain. Staying aware of your body, taking quick stretch breaks and moving throughout the day will help you maintain good posture and improve your overall health.