Working from home has had its adjustments but I like to think I’m doing okay with it.
I have turned my kitchen table into a work desk for me and a school station for the kids. When all three of us are on Zoom calls at the same time (Alex, I’ll take ‘Quarantine Catchphrases’ for $200, please), I’ll take my computer to the couch and sit there to do my work. Over these last few months, the go-between of the couch and the kitchen table have become a constant. Unfortunately, another constant has been back pain. It’s a new and persistent back pain that I’ve never experienced before. And even if it’s been a good, productive work day, my neck still feels tense and stressed.
So like any good millennial, I turned to the internet to figure out why. And there I learned that words like ergonomic and lumbar support aren’t just fancy buzzwords to sell you a chair or desk or mattress. It all has to do with posture and the muscles that give you the ability to sit, stand, and lie down. Fun fact from the American Chiropractic Association: Without posture and the muscles that support it, you would simply fall to the ground. So while I’m not falling to the ground, thankfully, I am straining my muscles by sitting on my squeaky, wooden, straight-backed, antique dining room chair with little cushioning (oh swivel rolling office chair with adjustable lumbar support, how I miss thee) and overworking my back muscles to maintain upright or I’m doing the opposite by lounging on the couch and allowing the couch cushions to do the support work my own muscles are supposed to be doing.
Our posture helps us with simple, yet incredibly important things like walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. The postural muscles align our bodies in ways and positions that put the least amount of strain on other muscle and ligament groups. Good posture aids us in healthy movement, weight-bearing activity and balance whereas poor posture can lead to muscle strain, weakening of the muscles, back and neck pain, and injury. So what you can do if you are experiencing pain related to poor posture or you simply want to improve it? Here are some tips for good posture, whether you’re working from home at your kitchen table or just enjoying binge watching your favorite show from the couch.
There are several simple exercises that will help strengthen your core muscles like isometric rows, forward fold, and planks. You can start here.
Resources like the American Chiropractic Association (acatoday.org) have checklists and questions to help determine if you are sitting/standing/lying down properly.
In Your Office
While there is hope for the light at the end of the quarantine tunnel, this might be a good time to invest in a proper office chair.
Though many jobs require several hours sitting at a desk, other jobs require lengthy time in which you are constantly standing or walking. In this case, starting off with proper equipment like good footwear is highly recommended. Wearing shoes with proper arch support and cushioning will help your body’s entire alignment. Studies have shown that wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time can put strain on your muscles, even as far up as your back, and can lead to improper posture.
The internet is rife with all sorts of back braces and posture supports, ranging from medical grade to DIY tutorials. Check out braceability.com If you think you need to see a medical provider for your back pain, a chiropractor is a good doctor to contact.
It’s been said that having good posture makes you appear taller and slimmer, so I don’t think I need any more encouragement than that!
—Claire Dougherty Kovacs
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