Feeling the strain and pain of working from home? News flash: your sitting posture may be the cause of your discomfort. We spoke to some experts from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to glean some tips on how to correct our postures when working from home.

Dr Philip Cheong, principal physiotherapist at SGH says one can avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI) by being mindful of the shoulders, distance from the screen, neck positions and eye level.

Dr Cheong says: “It is important to keep in mind that any posture held for prolonged periods is not good for the body. The key is to take frequent breaks and change your position often.”

To help you stave off strain and injury from a prolonged WFH arrangement, Dr Cheong – together with SGH senior physiotherapist Belinda Liew and physiotherapist Kenneth Goh – offer guidelines for better posture when working from home.

When using a keyboard…

1. Correct

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Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

Proper posture for working on the keyboard and using the mouse: The arms are resting comfortably on the table and the wrists are relaxed and supported. The mouse and keyboard are also within comfortable reach.

2. Wrong

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-keyboard-wrong
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

The arms are not resting comfortably on the table and the wrists are not in a comfortable position. The cluttered work area leads to the awkward placement of the mouse where one has to strain and reach forward.

When sitting on an armchair…

1. Correct

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-chair-correct
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

Proper posture on a plush chair or sofa. The thighs are resting comfortably on the seat of the sofa and the back is supported with a cushion. The feet are resting on the ground with the laptop propped up on a cushion.

2. Wrong

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-chair-wrong
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

The laptop is not propped up and both feet are not on the floor. The weight is not distributed evenly through the buttocks and posterior aspect of the thighs.

When working on a bed…

1. Correct

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-bed-correct
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

Proper posture on the bed. The back is supported with a cushion or pillow with the laptop propped up on a cushion or pillow and there is also support under the back of the knees. The neck and shoulders are relaxed and in a comfortable position.

2. Wrong

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-bed-wrong
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

Improper posture on the bed while working. The hunched position with back unsupported, head protruding forward and laptop not propped up properly will lead to strain and pain over the long term.

3. Wrong

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Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

The body weight is propped by the elbows with the back extended. Also the shoulders are elevated with the head protruding and wrists flexed and tensed up.

When working at a desk…

1. Correct

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-desk-correct
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

Proper posture with table and chair where the thighs are resting comfortably on the seat pan of the chair. In this position, the bodyweight is distributed evenly through the buttocks and posterior aspect of the thighs. Also, the back is well supported, with feet resting on the ground, and knees and elbows bent at 90 deg angles. The monitor is placed at one arm’s length away from the eyes, with the top of the monitor at approximately eye level.

2. Wrong

physiotherapists-avoid-strain-injury-when-working-from-home-desk-wrong
Credit: Chong Jun Liang/ST Photo

Sitting at the edge of a chair with your feet not resting fully on the floor can increase the strain on the buttocks, lower back and legs. Also, the back is not supported, the shoulders are hunched forward and elevated, with the head protruding to look at the monitor. The monitor is placed too close and too low for the user.

Text: Chantal Sajan/The Straits Times