It became clear to me during one of our events that folks out there are really struggling to feel good in their work-from-home setups. Given that we have at least another couple of weeks in PAUSE, I spoke with my chiropractor (who I miss dearly), Dr. Monisha Mallik, D.C. about simple, practical, and actionable tips we all can employ in order to feel better while we’re safe at home.
Dr. Mallik works with Urban Wellness Clinic. She holds her Doctor of Chiropractic from National University of Health Sciences in Chicago, IL with further training in Active Release Technique, Neurokinetic Therapy, and McKenzie Method.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about keeping good posture when working?
Good posture does not come from being able to sit perfectly straight for 8 hours a day. Our bodies are dynamic and meant to move so creating pockets of time for movement breaks will support your posture along with a supportive chair and desk.
Depending on your personal pain points, if you have any currently, making sure those areas are properly assessed and provided with the right tools (i.e. a lumbar support, foot rest or laptop stand to keep your neck from flexing forward) will also provide you with more comfort and the ability to maintain proper posture throughout the day.
What’s your number one tip for helping people feel better when sitting?
My number one tip to feel better while sitting is to position yourself in your chair first and foremost to provide your spine and extremities with support and then you can tweak your desk items to work for you rather you changing your positioning to reach your items.
What low tech/ low cost solutions can you recommend?
After you have been properly assessed for your personal ergonomic set up, you can find household items (or in office items) to advance your support. For example, you can prop your computer on a stack of books so that your eyes hit the top third of your computer screen. If you elevate your chair to match your desk height and your feet do not lay flat on the ground, you can support yourself with more books or yoga blocks. A quick and easy lumbar support can be fashioned by rolling up a sweatshirt and placing it between your low back and your chair.
There are also numerous low cost options for your ergonomic set up on the urban wellness clinic site under the Ergonomic Products tab. Majority of the products we recommend go through amazon. They are not only affordable, but also products that we use ourselves for a pain free work day.
What cues should we be looking for when setting ourselves up?
Your full spine should be flush against the back of your chair. Your arm rests should be positioned in a way that your elbows sit slightly higher than your wrists and your hips should sit slightly higher than your knees. This prevents compression of nerves and keeps you away from conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica. Another major cue is to be sure your knees are hip width apart and your feet fully supported on the ground.
What else (movement breaks) do you recommend to help folks feel better when working?
Our bodies were not made to sit still for hours upon hours so movement breaks should be non-negotiable in your work day. You can opt for a short walk or 5-10 minutes of stretching at your desk every hour.
Other areas to look into are how your eyes feel throughout the day. If you are dealing with headaches and an increase in eye strain, then a screen protector can help diminish that or blue light filtration lenses.
You also want to focus on where your breath goes while you are working. The tendency can be to breathe shallow and into the chest, which can lead to neck and shoulder tension. Try to bring your breath to your belly as you inhale for a count of 4 and then exhale through your mouth for a count of 5.
If you have one tip for standing while working, what would it be?
You want your elbows to sit higher than your wrist while standing and working as well to eliminate compression of nerves that can eventually cause conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. You should also consider a wide base of support for yourself by standing hip width apart and toes pointed to 11 and 1 o’clock. Try not to stand for long periods of time. A healthy balance between sitting and standing is recommended.
How do you prefer to be contacted?
You can reach me at Urban Wellness Clinic by phone at 212-355-0445 or email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a personalized ergonomic assessment (during the New York pause you may opt for a virtual assessment). I can also be reached via email at Monisha@urbanwellnessclinic.