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Working from home? Best practices for a comfortable transition to your not-so-ergonomic chair/spacE

WFH can get unproductive or even distraction-infested if there is discomfort or pain interfering with your workday. I have designed a routine for all WFH-ers to prevent or eliminate any discomfort related to change in workspace or chair or just having to work longer hours.

Let's get right to it...

Before I detail each exercise and tell you what it does, let's see that your routine will look like. It will need 10 to 15 mins and will be ideal if you split them throughout your workday.

Foremost: Sit on a neutral pelvis. Always. Every day.

The chair that you use at home right is likely different from the model you use at work. Your body will thank you if you find your neutral pelvis on any chair you sit on.

The way to find your neutral pelvis is pelvic rolls.Let's see how..

Sit away from the backrest of your chair ( maintain half of your thigh length on the chair), roll the pelvis back as far as you can (typical slouch sitting), then roll it forward (fully arch your back) and then try and sense the center of these two extremes and make that your sitting position.

At first, this will be inconvenient to most. It's common - although not advised - to sit with the pelvis rolled back, deep into your seats. Most chairs automatically take you there. This rolled back sitting position is also called tail bone sitting, and it results in tight hip flexors, shallow breathing, lower-back issues, and forward neck

Now for the 5 exercises I have recommended above.

Pelvic clock exercise

Why: To prevent the discomfort associated with long hours of sitting, this exercise will promote pelvic mobility even if you do not change your posture frequently.

How: Imagine a clock on your chair, get your pelvis to neutral (starting position for this exercise) and then move the pelvis in following patterns:

- 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock

- 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock

- 2 o'clock to 8 o'clock

- 4 o'clock to 10 o'clock

Segmental forward roll with hip stretch:

Why: This is a beautiful stretch for deep hip muscles and muscles of the lower back.

How: Sitting in neutral pelvis, put the right foot on the left knee and do a segmental roll (neck followed by upper back, followed by lower back, followed by pelvis) all the way from the head to the lower back. Do it on both sides as far as you can go, hold the stretch with normal breathing (30-45 seconds)

Side Bends:

Why: Stretches and stregthens your lower back on each side.

How: While on your chair, move your right sit bone off the chair. Allow the hip bone to drop down towards the floor followed by lift up towards the right shoulder. (5 repetitions each side, 3 sets)

Modified Downward dog

Why: Helps and optimizes your breathing while you sit. It's a result of chest expansion and chest decompression in this exercise.

This is a modified downward dog position where your arms are extended and your hands are holding on to your table or any stable furniture (preferably lower than your pelvis).

How: Get into a downward dog (yoga pose) with your hands on the work table/ chair. Stay in the position and breathe and expand the mid thorax (Breathe into the shoulder blades). (3-4 breathing cycle)

Spinal twist on a chair

Why: Aids flexibility and movements in your upper body.

How: This needs to be done gently on your work chair.

Keep the spine tall, keep your feet flat on the floor, maintain their position and twist.

Feet and pelvis don't move, only the upper body twists as far as it is possible. Do this once on each side.

Chest openers

Why: Chest muscle stretch also called a corner stretch/ door stretch is key in avoiding the very common shoulder and neck muscle imbalance. It prevents rounding of the shoulders and the related tightness and pain in the lower neck.

How: First place your arm at an angle of about 100 degrees at a corner wall/ door frame (shoulder elevation from the side) and now twist your body away from it as much as it is comfortable. Next, keep your arm at about 45 degrees and stretch the two pectoral/ chest muscles, do 45 seconds hold and 1 repetition on each side.

Sitting is an unavoidable part of your workday but it does not have to hurt. Here are few more suggestions to minimize discomfort from prolonged sitting:

  • Replace the chair with a more mobile surface like a physioball for part of the day.

  • Reminder every 45 minutes to stand, walk around your chair(5-6 steps, 10 seconds) and, sit back.

  • Stand for a few tasks in a day (15-20 minutes, every 1.5 hours).

  • Core activation exercises.

  • Deep neck flexor strength exercises like chin tucks and pulling movements like rows

  • Do a total-body cardio or strength workout 2-3 times a week for strength.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions, I am available at:

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