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Trends: Avoid tech neck — set your work posture straight

BACK, neck, butt aching from working from home? Join the club. Many of us do not have the right equipment to spend eight hours a day sitting down at a computer in our house. Over days, the cumulative effects of sitting in the wrong chair, working on a laptop (which often means either the screen or the keyboard are at the wrong height) or even crossing your legs add up. Enter Hiba Boufares, osteopath at the Hoy Hotel in Paris, with her three tips on how to help your body feel better WFH.

1. Sit properly

‘Sit upright, lower back against the bottom of the chair or against a small cushion,’ says Boufares. ‘Thighs and hips are at right angles and feet flat on the floor. The elbows and the upper arms need to hang in line with the chest, not forward of it.’

While the average head weighs between ten and 11 pounds, gravity means that holding the head at a 45-degree angle can increase that ‘weight’ to 49lbs and cause muscle strain — so-called ‘tech neck’ because it is a common bad posture to adopt while looking at a phone or screen. Boufares says to prevent this, be aware that the head needs to sit in line with the shoulders with the chin tucked in.

No work desk? ‘Rather than collapsing on a sofa or, worse, in bed, sit on a small cushion, back to the wall, cross-legged, the computer raised by a stack of books to avoid collapsing in front of the screen,’ she recommends.

2. Position your screen

Screens should be at eye level, says Boufares. ‘If you have a laptop, raise it to avoid having to look down constantly. Ideally, the keyboard should be at elbow height and the forearms at right angles to the upper arms to relax the shoulders. An extra mouse (rather than a laptop’s built-in trackpad) allows you to move without getting tense.’

3. Stretch often

‘Every 30 minutes, get up and stretch,’ says Boufares, who recommends a simple roll-down as an effective exercise. ‘Stand with your feet flat, shoulder-width apart, bend your neck down, then roll down from your chest until your upper body is bent forward over your legs. Keep your knees relaxed to stretch the back and the back muscles. Count to ten and roll up slowly, returning to the starting position.’