Right posture, environment: Tips to work from home

By Rupambika Sahoo & Dr Sumita Rege
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July 31, 2020

Work from home, has become the new normal for all of us, these days. The other day when talking to my sister-in-law, she mentioned that she is a bit concerned about her five year old daughter who is taking online classes, as schools are shut due to the current pandemic situation. She is particularly worried that her daughter is experiencing redness, itching and watery eyes, similar to how she experiences when she uses her laptop to work. In addition, to the issues with her eyes, my sister-in-law also has back pain. Schools and colleges have also moved to the ‘from home’ mode, which means that children and adolescents have started to experience issues previously limited only to adults.

Both online classes or online work, require that we maintain a constant sitting position for a considerable time using furniture that is not designed to be supportive of the postures we maintain. Added to this is the increased use of screen time, including laptops, tablets, and phones. All of these increase the likelihood of increased musculoskeletal pain, eye pain and headaches. In this scenario caring for yourself by maintaining good posture and sitting position is crucial to work without pain and exhaustion, and it could enhance productivity. Here are some strategies that could be helpful during this work from home.

Create a work from home setting

Since most desk-related jobs require at least 6 hours of sitting in one place with a focus on work, it becomes imperative to set up a work area that is conducive to improving productivity. While many of us, might prefer to use our sofa/couch or beds as these seem comfortable, in the long run these may actually prove to reduce your productivity. Hence, it is best to set up a designated work area to separate the work from the home. In order to do this, one must consider a quiet and well-ventilated area, which has adequate lighting, and most importantly the right type of desk and chair. While the idea of investing in work desks and chairs might seem expensive, given the current long-term nature of the work from home situation, it might actually be beneficial. If that is not possible, then do use cushions to support your back and footstools to rest your feet, so that you are able to maintain an optimum sitting position. Once these have been selected, you want to create an ambience for improving your productivity. This includes keeping all your work-related documents or things organized and within your hand range and which would enable you to do your job efficiently.

Maintain a good posture

Sometimes we simply do not think about our posture while working. Continuous uncomfortable posture can lead to severe musculoskeletal problems later in our life. While sitting, maintaining an erect posture might preclude you from the exhaustion that results due to the constant sitting position. The correct posture for sitting at a desk is shown in the accompanying picture. It basically means that the feet should be supported flat on the ground, the knees and hips should be at an angle of 90 degrees from the surface on which they are supported. The table height should help to maintain the elbow in a comfortable position and the eyes should be able to view the screen directly, without need for bending the neck.

Also, sitting is not the only position you can work in, some of the time, you can lie-down on your tummy and work, especially if you are engaged in some work that does not require much of writing or typing. For children as well, instead of only sitting in one position, they could always use the tummy position especially while watching online videos or any lessons.

Stretch and exercise

Stretching and some light exercises will not only improve your mood but also prevent you from developing musculoskeletal pains associated with sustained sitting tasks. Some stretching or exercise every 1 or 2 hours is recommended for at least one minute. These include gentle neck or shoulder movements, wrist or hand stretching, or chair stretching or whatever fits for you. Do not forget to do eyes exercise because your eyes are also constantly working! Simple movements like eyes shut and open, and some eye movements can also do wonders. Please check the accompanying pictures for how to do these exercises.

Managing electronic gadgets

We all regularly use laptops and cell phones and other gadgets for work purposes. Using these gadgets bring up their own problems. For example, continuous typing on laptop and tablet could cause wrist and thumb pain. So, one might consider the wrist and finger placement while working. Wrist assists that support the wrist while typing can be used.

Aside from typing the other big issue is constant screen time, and for this, glare-free glasses can be used or you could change your gadget’s setting to reduce glare. Different software are also available to lessen the glare from your gadgets. Another simple trick is the 20-20-20 rule: after every 20 minutes of work, look away from your screen to a distance of approximately 20 feet for about 20 seconds. You might consider using these strategies to manage working with your electronic gadgets efficiently.

In the midst of chaos, it may seem very hard to manage your daily work lives well. However, there are simple strategies that you can apply to help yourselves to be more productive while remaining healthy by preventing muscle pains

Points to keep in mind

• Take frequent breaks from work to stretch and exercise
• Try to keep work area separate
• Use the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eye strain and fatigue
• Maintain good sitting posture
• Plan your activities in advance to avoid hassle in between your job
• Organize your desk and your work environment whatever is required for that job
• Don't forget to hydrate yourself, so keep your water bottle near you
• Keep a notebook or sticky note to jot down your thoughts or anything you remember midway through any activity or task
• You can also put on some music without lyrics (instrumental music), alpha wave, or theta music to boost productivity and focus

 

Rupambika Sahoo is an assistant professor in Manipal College of Health Professions, at MAHE, Manipal and Dr Sumita Rege is an associate professor at Manipal College of Health Professions, MAHE, Manipal. 

 

 

Comment on this article

  • Shashi Shetty, Santhoor

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    very good information.

    Agree

  • Sujir Praveen, Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    Good Information... Thank you Daijiworld good report..

    Agree

  • Suruchii Gautam, Mumbai

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    Very well written. Good explanation in simple and easy way for healthy living. This article is an eye opener for me and has given me explaination about how my work desk needs to be along with my sitting posture. I will surely use the techniques explained here. Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    Agree [2]

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    Take a Walk after every 30 Minutes ...

    Agree [4]


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