[This article was written by Misty Jones, Supervisor of Rehabilitation Services, Samaritan Hospital – Albany Memorial Campus.]
An increased number of Americans are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and their makeshift offices – at dining room tables, on the couch, even perched on the bed – is leading to an epidemic of complaints about headaches and neck/back pain. The issue? Poor posture and awful ergonomics.
Good posture is critical to good health. But why? Posture is basically your body’s alignment, and if it is off, it affects how you run, walk, jump, breathe, sit and even lie down. Posture even has an impact on your body’s circulation and digestion, as your internal organs are able to function more efficiently when they aren’t compressed in your abdominal cavity.
Poor posture is a common problem and the source of a lot of the neck, jaw, head, shoulder/back, and even knee pain complaints routinely treated by physical therapists. Do you slump at your desk while typing on the computer, or cradle the phone handset between your shoulder and ear? That’s a recipe for poor posture. Do you spend hours every day staring downward while texting and scrolling on a smartphone or tablet? You are in danger of “text neck,” which is a hallmark of poor posture.
So, what is good posture? Your head ideally should be centered directly over your spine, with your chin tucked in and shoulders back. In that position, your head doesn’t have to fight gravity all day, which helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and back and muscular pain.
While there is no single correct working posture when you are seated at a computer, the easiest way to achieve a neutral working posture is:
- A space that allows your feet to be flat on a sturdy surface.
- Your knees should be at 90-degree angle (with the seat at or below knee height).
- Your hips should also be at 90-degree angle.
It is also critical that you stand up, stretch, and get out of your slouch at least every 30 minutes. Take a walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, climb a few stairs, and do some form of light stretching. Your body will thank you!
The Rehabilitation Services program, located at Samaritan Hospital – Albany Memorial Campus (600 Northern Blvd. in Albany), is part of St. Peter’s Health Partners Patient Therapies. It is a unique outpatient program dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients recovering from surgery, injury and medical illnesses. In addition to traditional physical therapy, our location provides special services including rehabilitation of hand and arm disorders, and treatment of urinary incontinence/pelvic pain/pelvic floor disorders. Our specialized staff of occupational, physical, and certified hand therapists combine state-of-the-art treatment techniques and equipment with more traditional therapies.
For more information, call 518-427-3373 or visit us at https://www.sphp.com/find-a-service-or-specialty/rehabilitation/