Why it’s Important for Your Health to Keep Moving When Working Remotely

By Amanda Notley

With the outbreak of COVID-19, workplace regulations have caused many companies to encourage employees to work from home. But being in the comfort of your home can easily lead to a more sedentary life.

One of the challenges with working remotely is that you may not have the amount of space and equipment that you have at work. For some people, their workplace may be on a kitchen table or on their lap, which will lead to poor posture over a prolonged period of time. Your workplace needs to be ergonomically friendly in order to maintain the correct posture and reduce your chance of injury.

It is important to maintain good posture when you are sitting at your desk starting from the top of your body to the bottom. Keep your head vertical to your neck and your monitor at eye level, thus reducing the amount of strain on your neck and shoulders. When working on a desk or table, your hands and wrists should be in a neutral position, meaning that your forearm should be just about flush with the table.

When seated, you will need to find a posture that provides support for your back. The ideal position is when your spine is neutral, which helps reduce stress on the supporting structures of the spine. If you can draw a straight line from your ear down to your hips, your back is in a neutral position.

Once you’ve established a good posture for your back, it’s time to adjust your seat to make sure your knees are at or below hip level. If you don’t have an adjustable chair you can sit on a firm pillow and adjust the height of the pillow accordingly so that your knees reach that desired level.

Once good posture is achieved, the last important step is to keep your body moving. We are not meant to stay in one position all day even with good posture. Step away from your workplace every 30 minutes to go for a short walk or to stretch major muscle groups.

Here are some easy stretches that I recommend.

  1. Levator Scapulae Stretch. While seated, place your left hand behind your head and pull your head downward toward your left armpit and vice versa. Feel this stretch toward the back of the neck on the opposite side. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on each side three times.
  2. Doorway Stretch. Stand in an open doorway, raise arms up to the side and bend elbows at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms and forearms on the doorframe, then step forward with one leg until stretch is felt in the shoulder/chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
  3. Wrist Extensor/Flexor Stretch. Extend your arm in front of you and bend your wrist upwards. With your other hand, bend your wrist further upwards until you feel a stretch on the bottom of your forearm. Bend your wrist downward to stretch the top of your forearm. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on each side three times.
  4. Seated Figure-4 Stretch. While seated, place one foot on the top of the opposite knee. Press down gently on the crossed knee and lean forward keeping your back straight. You should feel this in your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on each side three times.
  5. Seated Hamstring Stretch. While seated, rest your heel on the floor with your knee straight and lean forward until a stretch is felt behind your knee and thigh. Maintain a straight spine the entire time. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on each side three times.

If you are experiencing pain and you’ve taken the aforementioned steps, a visit to a physical therapist or chiropractor may be the next step to better address these issues. A physical therapist or chiropractor will be able to assess and provide the appropriate treatment if stretching is not enough.

Dr. Amanda Notley is a physical therapist at ProClinix Sports Physical Therapy & Chiropractic in Ardsley and Pleasantville. For more information about this article or about ProClinix, Amanda can be reached at 914-202-0700 or at anotley@proclinix.com. Also visit www.proclinix.com.