The importance of core strength and posture cannot be understated when you are working from home. Since the pandemic started, many of us have switched to working from home for some or all of the week. For some people it has been a new experience, whilst for others this may have been the case for quite a while!
Either way, we need to always find ways to make sure we aren’t experiencing niggles and injuries or subjecting our future self to poor posture and alignment.
With that in mind, here are some tips on maintaining your posture and core strength while in lockdown/working from home.
HAVING THE PROPER WORK STATION SET UP FOR YOU
This may sound like a no-brainer or it might sound of little importance, but if you are spending 8+ hours of the day sitting behind a computer screen it is absolutely vital that the ergonomic setup is correct for you. Each person’s work station is going to need to be set up for that particular individual, there are simple steps to follow to make sure the set up is correct.
The chair ideally should be a quality office chair. The seat height should be adjustable so your feet are flat on the floor with knees in line or just below the line of your hips with a slight gap between the back of the knee and the end of the seat rest.
Elbows should rest easily at a right angle onto the desk. You may need a footrest in order to tick all of these off.
The monitor should be roughly arms length away and your eye gaze should be at the top ⅓ of the screen.
Make sure you’re sitting up straight and making contact with the backrest of the chair so you are supported while maintaining an upright posture.
Remember your neck is a part of your spine, when setting up your work station make sure that your neck is in line with the rest of your spine and you’re not leaning forward from the base of your neck.
If you use two monitors there are two options depending on whether you use both monitors in equal measure or use one primarily over the other.
See image below.
MAKE SURE YOU MOVE EVERY 60 MINUTES
Even more frequently would be even better!
As a minimum we should be getting up from our office chair roughly every hour. Hopefully this would be happening anyway when we do such things as refill our glass of water, go to the bathroom or when we give the dog some pats!
To add more benefit to this it’s a great idea to include some more targeted movement like stretching (static of moving) and/or strength and mobility exercises, even if they only take 20-30 seconds.
For example, after you’ve got yourself a glass of water, do about ten to twenty repetitions of wall angels (see image below) before you sit back down to work. This particular exercise is fantastic for posture as it forces you to open the chest, straighten the back and breathe deeply.
THORACIC MOBILITY – WHAT IS IT AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR POSTURE
The thoracic spine is the middle section of your vertebrae between the neck and lower back. It comprises of 12 vertebrae and your rib cage. Being sedentary and sitting for long periods can lead to stiffness through this area which can result in kyphosis (rounded upper back) as well as a host of other issues such as headaches and lower back pain.
Thoracic issues can affect posture, limb movement and breathing so it’s crucial that we remain flexible and strong through this region.
There are many exercises we can do to improve our thoracic mobility and there are two main focuses when it comes to thoracic mobility.
They are extension and rotation.
Extension meaning to open the chest (without arching the lower back) this often pairs with shoulder flexion, think reaching your arms overhead. So if the wall angle was tricky that might be due to poor thoracic extension. Here are a couple of thoracic extension exercises you could try:
Thoracic rotation is the rotation of your upper body without borrowing rotation from the hips.
If you are particularly tight across the chest and in the shoulders, these exercises may feel a bit sticky as they’re also stretching your chest muscles and putting demand on the shoulder joint. Move to the end of your range with a gentle push at the end to try and increase the range of motion. Improvement in range will happen with plenty of practice!
SCHEDULE IN EXERCISE
All this means is there’s a time in your diary/calendar set aside purely to workout.
Within this workout, make sure there are some mobility/flexibility exercises to keep on top of your posture and add in some core strength work as well. A strong core will be able to support your spine all day long and during exercise, a weak core can lead to injury and poor posture over time.
Core exercises don’t always have to be sit ups and planks, though they have their place there are a wide variety of exercises to challenge and build core strength.
Also, big, compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench press will all strengthen your core – another reason lifting weights is so beneficial!
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
If you’re finding by the end of the day you’re feeling stiff and immobile, that’s your body’s way of telling you exactly that – it’s stiff and immobile!
And if that’s what it’s feeling it’s definitely time to include more movement in your day.
If you find you’re getting headaches during the day, ask yourself if you’re drinking enough water, getting enough fresh air or whether your workstation is set up slightly out of whack?
So listen to what your body is telling you, ask why that may be and take action to address it.
Working from home can be difficult, and it can have big impacts on core strength and posture. It’s vital to make sure we have the best set up possible, we move as often as we can and we’re including some really good exercises in our week.
This not only will help us maintain good posture and avoid injuries and niggles, but it will also breathe fresh life into your day!
If you’re feeling strong, limber and mobile, that will in turn have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing, which is especially important to look after during this time.
Want To Learn More?
Since COVID-19 entered our lives, we have aimed to deliver some great weekly information as to how you can remain healthy, productive and in good spirits. This blog post is the latest addition to a growing library of information. Click to read more on our dedicated COVID support blogs.
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