Here’s the situation: It’s 6pm and you finally look up from your computer screen and realise that you’ve been hunched over for eight-plus hours. Coupled with the fact you’re most likely working from home and the chair you’re sitting at is probably from IKEA, it’s no wonder your back is sore.
Working from home has afforded greater flexibility for many people but hasn’t been as kind to your back, shoulders and neck. And, if you’re one of those people just working from your laptop on a table (without a laptop stand or external monitor), you’re probably feeling even worse for wear.
We turned to osteopath and exercise scientist, Dr Paul Hermann, for his hacks on how to create a healthier and more body-friendly routine while working from home.
“With everyone spending a lot more time at home this year, we’ve all had to adapt our lifestyles and respond to change, one of the biggest being working from home,” Dr Hermann told TheLatch—.
“So, it is no surprise that many of my patients have asked me for advice on how to make their home office a healthy and productive environment. We are all creatures of habit but adopting some of these home office habits will keep your body healthy and strong, for when exercise and sport goes back to normal.”
— The 60/60 rule
Our bodies were designed to move so, to make this a habit, set an alarm and every 60 minutes get up and move for 60 seconds. Mix it up. Try a plank, do squats, push-ups (of any level) or just dance for 60 secs. Anything to make you regularly move will give you that extra boost of energy to help you keep pushing on with your day.
— Get a sit to stand desk or desk addition
Sitting is the new smoking so stand when possible. These are reasonably priced now, and you can even put one on your kitchen table. Swapping from sitting to standing is a simple way to help keep our bodies up and mobile.
— Drink plenty of water
Have a water bottle at your desk and aim for two litres per day. It helps our digestion, mental focus and muscles. The added bonus is you’ll go to the toilet more often which means more standing and moving. Win!
— Maintain routine
Stay active in ways that are as close to normal as possible. Our bodies love routine. If you can’t get to your normal gym, pilates, or yoga class do something similar at home, on the same day and time as you normally would.
You’ll keep your healthy habits strong as well as your body which means when the time comes to get back into your exercise again, whether it’s community sport, running or solo gym time, it won’t be a shock to your body!
— Separate the “work” and “home” space
It’s importantly mentally that we maintain the separate work/home associations we have with areas or items. If you’re using the kitchen table for “work”, try and keep it to one section, and throw a bedsheet over the workspace at the end of each day so it can then mentally be a “home” kitchen table again.
— Maintain a set work schedule
Just like separating our work/home areas, it’s important to be disciplined about our schedule. It is very easy to get lost in work and keep going past your finish time or to log back on later. Whenever possible, have a routine each day. Make a schedule and stick to it.
My patients are sick of me telling them to stretch. It’s less about being flexible and more about taking time every day to just be with your body. Move it, stretch it, and nurture it. It’s the only one you’ve got.
Dr Paul Hermann is an osteopath, exercise scientist and national presenter for Elastoplast.