Work From Home: 5 Tips and 5 Exercises to Reduce Postural Strain

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Written by: Kaleena Yeung BSc, MScPT, Registered Physiotherapist

So many of us have had to unexpectedly adapt to working from home and may not be properly set up to do so.

Here are some tips to help improve body position and limit muscle strain:  

  1. If possible try not to work off a laptop; having your keyboard attached to your screen will cause strain to your neck and shoulders as both your neck and arms cannot be in a comfortable position at the same time. If you have the ability to work using an external monitor or keyboard that is best.
  2. Put one or both feet up on a footrest/book/box/etc.; this will force you to sit back in your chair and help to prevent you from slouching.
  3. Sit with a pillow behind your back; if your seat pan is too deep and you can’t comfortably rest your feet on the floor or footrest, sitting with a pillow behind your back will allow your feet to reach the floor while still having back support.
  4. Sit on a pillow or something soft; if you’re sitting at a kitchen chair this can get uncomfortable quickly. If you can’t sit on a softer chair then make one using pillows or blankets.
  5. If possible, periodically stand to work; use a box or books to raise the level or your keyboard and monitor, or stand at a countertop if able.

desk with white chair and mac screen

Here are 5 exercises that can be done easily at home without any equipment. These can be done to improve posture/strength and to help break up your workday:

Chin tucks

Begin sitting or standing up tall with your shoulders down and resting away from your ears, focus on an object at eye level and gently move your head back to tuck your chin in without looking up or down. You can use your fingers to help guide the movement if needed.


Hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat 10-15 times; do this 1-2 times per day or as needed.  

Female sitting tall to demonstrate chin tuck exercise
Female sitting tall to demonstrate chin tuck exercise
Female sitting tall to demonstrate chin tuck exercise

Thoracic spine extension stretch over chair back

Begin sitting up tall in a chair, you can place a folded towel over top of the chair back for comfort if the chair is too firm, with your fingers clasped behind your neck and your elbows together in front of you, slowly relax backwards over the edge of the chair as far as you can comfortably stretch. Keep your elbows close together and try not to arch your lower back.


Hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat 10-15 times; do this 1-2 times per day or as needed.  

female sitting in chair holding neck for spine stretch

Thoracic spine rotations with deep breathing

 Sitting up tall with your hands folded across your chest, slowly twist your trunk to one side stopping if pain is made worse, take a deep breath and exhale rotating farther as able without increasing pain, repeat until you can go no farther or pain is increased. Slowly return to the neutral position and repeat to the other side. Try not to shift your hips to the opposite side when rotating.

Repeat 3-5 times per side; do this 1-2 times per day or as needed

female sitting in chair holding neck for spine twist stretch

I’s, T’s and Y’s

Lying on your stomach, you can use a rolled towel under your forehead for support, pull your shoulder blades down and away from your ears without lifting your chest from the ground. Then a) with your arms at your sides slowly raise them off the ground, pause and slowly lower; b) with your arms out to the side in a T position and your thumbs pointing up, slowly raise your arms off the ground, pause and slowly lower; c) with your arms overhead in a “superman” position, slowly raise them off the ground, pause and slowly lower.


Repeat 10-15 times or to muscle fatigue, do 2-3 sets at a time; do this 3-4 times per week

A

I's Exercise

B

T's Exercise

C

Wall slides with lift off

Facing the wall, stand up tall pulling your shoulder blades down and away from your ears, place both hands on the wall resting the pinky side of your hand on the wall, slowly slide your hands along the wall up and to the outside creating a 45 degree angle, once your elbows are fully extended lift your arms off the wall, pause and slowly lower your arms off the wall using your shoulder blades to help pull your arms down creating a ‘W’.

Repeat 10-15 times or to muscle fatigue, do 2-3 sets at a time; do this 3-4 times per week

female standing facing wall demonstrating wall slide exercises
female standing facing wall demonstrating wall slide exercises
female standing facing wall demonstrating wall slide exercises
female standing facing wall demonstrating wall slide exercises

Remember to take regular breaks from looking at your computer screen if able; your head, eyes and body will appreciate it!

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