The advent of home offices in 2020 forced us to adjust to a vastly different work-life quickly.

Now that some of us are heading back to the workspace, there's one thing many of us are struggling with now more than ever, pain and comfort caused by poor posture.

Even for those who didn’t slouch before the pandemic, having to grind from home may have exacerbated latent issues that are now becoming daily aches and pains.

This article highlights what you've been doing wrong all this time and how to fix it so that your body may age gracefully.

What has working from home done to our posture?

None of us was prepared for the mass exodus from the office occurring in early 2020, having to make do with our lounges becoming our new, ill-equipped work stations.

Unsurprisingly, working for longer and at less than ideal home office setups have been unrelenting on our backs, arms, legs, shoulders and necks. Even if we don’t know it yet. But why?

Keeping our bodies healthy while working from home is a challenge because most people’s working areas aren’t supplied with the usual office basics and necessities, namely a desk, a recliner chair for lumbar and hip support, a monitor positioned at eye level, and a mouse and keyboard preventing nerve damage in the arms and hands.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to improve your posture by making a few essential changes.

None of us was prepared for the mass exodus from the office occurring in early 2020, having to make do with our lounges becoming our new, ill-equipped work stations.

Evaluate your work setup

A slim percentage of employees have home offices that emanate their professional work station featuring a desk, ergonomic chair, mouse, and keyboard.

These items help workers maintain a neutral, relaxed stance for several hours without paying much attention to how they're seated.

If you're an employer, consider investing in professional office gear if you're not considering returning to normal office life anytime soon.

Switch places often; be creative

If you're unable to obtain proper office equipment, there are ways to improve your makeshift office and save yourself from aching backs, necks and shoulders.

Experts suggest working standing up from a kitchen countertop, ironing board or a raised platform that can be used as a provisional standing desk.

There are multiple benefits to using standing desks, the primary one being that they negate the consequences that come with sitting for too long by reducing back pain and uplifting your overall mood and wellbeing.

If you don't want to be standing all day, consider working from the floor with your laptop on a coffee table planted right in front of you. In this position, you'll be at eye-level with your laptop screen, so there won't be as much pressure placed upon your neck. However, since your back isn't being supported, you shouldn't hold this position for too long.

The least recommended spot is the sofa. Comfortable as it may well be for kicking back and watching your favourite series, but it's a no-go for working because you'll naturally slouch.

However, since most people are holed up in a small apartment, the couch might be the only area from which to work. If that's the case, set a timer to remind you to get off the couch and move around.

... since most people are holed up in a small apartment, the couch might be the only area from which to work. If that's the case, set a timer to remind you to get off the couch and move around.

Create or buy your own laptop stand

Out of all of us, laptop users suffer the most from posture problems. The keyboard's proximity to the screen forces people to sit hunched over with their backs slouching and necks craning forward.

This major design flaw makes it impossible to work from a laptop while maintaining proper posture.

Thankfully, laptop stands are cost-effective and readily available from any tech shop. Alternately, you can prop up your laptop using a couple of books or something lying around your home.

Ensure you have lumbar support

Are you bothered by a stiff lower back or tight hips? Sitting in a ramrod straight dining room chair could be the cause of your discomfort.

If you're headed back to the office to a reclining chair, you need not worry about your conditioning worsening because these ergonomic seats support you.

If you're not in the market for adjustable office furniture, you can resolve your problems cheaply by rolling up a towel or blanket and placing it at your lower back.

Get a foot rest

After a day’s worth of sitting, your legs might feely achey. Why? Probably due to bad circulation and not placing your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart.

If you have one, adjust your chair so that your feet aren’t dangling, or if you’re stuck with non-adjustable furniture, use a block or something solid as a footrest.

Move around often

It's not healthy to sit in one position all day long, so make sure that you're taking frequent breaks to prevent poor circulation, muscle strain and other musculoskeletal issues associated with a lack of movement.

Without you realising, having other employees around in a professional working environment forces you to move around throughout the day, whether to grab a coffee, head to a meeting or visit the bathroom.

If you're now a permanent remote worker, there won't be these essential work distractions, especially if you're at home alone. Follow these tips to lubricate your joints with regular activities and breaks.

1. Position a glass of water across the room from you. Knowing that hydration is important, you'll be forced to get up to retrieve it.

2. Arrange your working area adjacent to a window and crack it open. The sights and sounds provide welcoming diversions, encouraging you to stand up and take a look at the outside bustle.

3. Exercise and stretch. Tight muscles cause us to be cranky and put us in a lousy mood. Plan to exercise over intervals or post-work to activate your muscles - it doesn't have to be overly strenuous - by running up and down flights of stairs, taking a brisk neighbourhood stroll, or engage your core with a couple of yoga stretches if you don’t have much time to spare.

Plan to exercise over intervals or post-work to activate your muscles...

What can I do to improve my posture overall?

Bad posture can affect you for the rest of your life, even after you’ve stopped working. So what can you do today to save you from crippling issues and expensive trips to the physio or chiropractor later on?

Your goal is to foster a healthy, neutral posture that won’t result in future injuries. Fortunately, it is possible to reset without difficulty and improve your posture in the following ways:

1. Starting with your head, make sure it’s positioned over your body, and not jutting forwards or tilted backwards.

2. Your lower back should be arched slightly inwards to prevent the onslaught of back pain. Don’t curve your back too much, though, because this may also cause discomfort.

3. Your ears should be aligned with your shoulders, which in turn, should line up with your hips. As you focus on work, your posture may slip occasionally, so it’s important that you continually correct it.

4. If you don’t own a mouse, try to keep your hands flat and straight. By bending them to the left or right or straining them, you could be at risk for developing painful carpal tunnel syndrome.

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