Does Your Back Hurt?
I’ve had to learn a lot of new things during the pandemic. No, I don’t mean how to do a sourdough bread starter, take up facemask making (my husband took care of that!), or making my own kombucha (store-bought for me all the way). I’ve had to learn how to sit more. Let me preface this by saying I don’t care for sitting, and it’s actually not for any professionally related reason.
Before all this, I would sit to meditate, something that took me a long time to do and feel comfortable on a little round zafu cushion (still working on it). I sit at my kitchen table in the early hours of the morning to write, but I’m like a fidgety kid.
I sit on my heels, sometimes one heel, sometimes half criss-cross-applesauce with the other sole of my foot planted firmly on the chair. I’m constantly changing sitting positions and none of them are ever what you’d envision for perfect sitting posture.
Sitting in my office on a pre-pandemic workday would be a quick few minutes typing a patient note, perched on a high rolling stool, but you wouldn’t find me there for long. I’d be up and moving around the treatment table to work on a client or demonstrate an exercise. I’m constantly moving, even if just little changes in here and there.
I love telehealth; don’t get me wrong. It’s an astounding privilege to be in my patients’ homes virtually, but sitting statically and staring at a screen all day is a challenge for me. Today.com included me in an article highlighting the best ergonomic options for home workstations.
With media interviews, you’re lucky to get a soundbite in so there’s plenty that didn’t get included. Here’s a behind the scenes look at what Today.com didn’t include (that I think actually was the best advice!):
1. I can’t say it enough: your next posture is your best posture. Have you watched Ellen recently as she’s recording her show from her living-room? She sits cross-legged in her chair, comfortable and attentive to her guests.
With the pandemic has come some loosening of teleworker etiquette- sit where the blood can flow into your legs (without them falling asleep), your back isn’t constantly nagging you and it doesn’t have to be a textbook position. Keep moving.
2. Use what you have- spend a lot of time on Zoom & can’t stand the view of your face looking down at the camera? Put books or boxes under your laptop to get the camera at eye level. Need to type while you talk? A Bluetooth keyboard can keep your wrists at a level that doesn’t have you typing like you’re Mr. Burns on the Simpsons.
Amazon all out of keyboards? Use your phone for the zoom camera & your laptop for the work. Use vertical towel rolls to give support if you’re sinking back into your chair & feet dangling (the woman in the black shirt & mauve chair in the Today.com article could use a little more support!) Getting weight through your feet will help keep your back from having to do all the work.
3. Have a few workstations. This is a great idea from a physical and mental standpoint. If I’m trying to be creative, I need to have space to move & let my ideas flow. It’s a very different vibe than if I’m sitting down for a hard-core focus session with Quickbooks to do some bookkeeping.
Have a few locations around your house for different work times during the day- a standing station with your computer on a dresser or counter-top, a typical desk is fine & that comfy couch corner is OK too. Keeping a variety ensures that you’re not going to stay in one position too long or have to worry about the perils of bad posture.
As much as the pandemic has caught many people off guard with how we work, I have a feeling that some of these changes are here to stay. “Working from home” isn’t going to mean “vacation” to anyone anymore and the etiquette of teleworking is definitely out the window (except for mute- for the love of all that is good in the world- please know how to mute…and lighting- invest in good lighting so you don’t look like you’re being held hostage in someone’s basement bathroom).
Have questions about your workstation? Send me a pic of you in your home-work environment & I’m happy to help make your setup work better for you!