When you’re working at an office, your choice of where to sit is usually limited to “at your desk.” At home, though, your options are quite different. There’s the kitchen table, the couch, the porch (should you be so lucky), the bed, the floor, the bathtub—the list goes on and on, particularly if you’re willing to get creative (and if you, like me, don’t have a legit home office to hunker down in every day).
But as we all continue to self-quarantine, you and your body have probably realized that the options are not created equally when it comes to supporting your posture. “When working from home, it’s important to remember to stay in a proper ergonomic position to avoid musculoskeletal problems,” says Jaclyn Fulop, PT, founder of Exchange Physical Therapy Group. And finding the right spot to sit is only half the battle. According to Stretch*d program director Jeff Brannigan, it’s also important to move around regularly, so be sure to set reminders to get up at least twice an hour. Your best bet, he says, is actually to alternate between sitting and standing while you work.
Here, the pros break down the definitive ranking of the best places to sit for your posture when working from home—maybe it will inspire you to switch locations for the long haul.
1. A dining room chair: While the chairs at your kitchen table might not be quite as comfortable as the ergonomically correct one you left behind in the office, they’re likely the closest you’re going to get. Sitting in a straight-backed chair with both feet on the ground is the best thing you can do for your posture, as long as your table or desk is at the right height. If you feel yourself slumping forward while typing, placing a book or box under your laptop can help.
2. A backless stool: If a regular chair-and-table combo isn’t possible, a backless bar stool is the next best thing. “A backless stool allows the core to stay activate,” says Fulop. “However, sitting in this position for too long can cause the ideal healthy ‘S-curve’ of your spine into a C-curve, in which your body is slouching forward.” Be sure to think about engaging your core, holding your spine straight and shoulders back, and keeping your hips at a 90-degree angle to avoid any soreness.
3. The floor: “The problem with sitting on the floor is that it’s nearly impossible to work with proper posture,” says Brannigan. “If you’ve got your laptop or computer in your lap, your head is falling forward and back is rounding while the chest and shoulders are caving in.” If you are going to pop a squat on the ground, do so in front of a coffee table so you can prop your laptop at a more appropriate height.
4. The couch: Looks like I’ve been doing things all wrong, because working from the couch (particularly if you’re sitting criss-cross applesauce with your laptop in your lap) is one of the worst possible way to perch yourself for hours on end. “It’s very easy to slouch on the couch and develop muscle tension when you’re there for an extended period of time,” says Brannigan.
5. The bed: The golden rule for a productive and posture-friendly work from home session? Get out of bed. “Your bed may be comfortable but it’s not conducive to sitting with proper posture and avoiding muscle tension,” says Brannigan. Resist the urge to lounge, and reserve your bed for sleeping and watching reruns of The Office, instead.