In the midst of our quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak, many people are being forced to work from home for the foreseeable future. Your work may be pretty much the same as before, but your work setup is probably different (couch, meet butt). Although it’s cozy, this desk alternative isn’t ideal for your back—which is why we asked chiropractors for tips on how to have an ergonomic workspace that’s good for your posture when you’re WFH.
“Most people really don’t have a good ergonomic situation at home,” says Jay Heller, DC, a New York City-based chiropractor, who points to a couch or a bed as prime examples of this (whoops). Todd Sinett, DC, chiropractor and kinesiologist, adds that working from home tends to create more postural issues that can create pain, “so you really want to be more mindful of your setup than ever before,” he says. The main goal? “What we want to do is eliminate that forward hunch, because everyone’s likely curled over a laptop, and that’s exacerbated when people work from home,” he says. Keep scrolling for chiropractor-approved ways to have good posture at home.
How to create an ergonomic workspace at home
Put your laptop at eye level: To keep your neck and shoulders upright, Dr. Heller says it’s key to place your laptop or your computer in a position that’s at eye level. “You don’t want to be looking down,” he says. Pro tip: “Place a piece of tape on a wall a little bit higher than eye level, and 30 seconds out of every 15 minutes, look at the tape instead of your screen so that your head naturally comes up,” he says.
Have your feet on the ground: Dr. Heller also says it’s key to keep your feet flat on the floor, rather than dangling. “If they’re on the floor, you’re stable,” he says. “If they’re not, it can really affect the arch in your lower back.” That can then contribute to back pain.
Find a straight-backed chair: “Working on a couch or a bed is the worst thing for your posture, because it’ll affect your low back and your neck, and your head will always fall into that rounded shoulder position,” says Dr. Heller. Also, a lot of office chairs can have neck support, which is probably not something you often get at home—which is why he recommends doing neck exercises throughout the day to prevent tightness and pain.
Set your arms at 90-degrees: Dr. Heller recommends making sure that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees for your hands to reach your keyboard… which can be tricky if your laptop is elevated on a platform. “You might want to add a separate keyboard if your laptop is then too high to reach, because you don’t want your arms raised too high,” he says. And, another thing: Keep moving, no matter what your setup is. “The opposite of sitting is motion, so you want to make sure and get up and move about every hour,” he says.
Also helpful: Try this at-home resistance band back workout to strengthen your postural muscles: