Having proper body mechanics at home when you sit on a couch, dining room chair, or desk seat is important especially if you have any sort of back or neck pain. Sleeping with the right pillow for optimal neck support is equally important as many hours are spent sleeping. The cost of ergonomically designed furniture is not cheap however and not everyone can afford such. Here are some suggestions for incorporating changes to your existing home furniture if you’re on a budget:
Couches: Slouching for any prolonged period can lead to abdominal & core muscle weakness. Slouching causes the pelvis to roll backwards into a “posterior pelvic tilt” thus hollowing out the natural curve or lordosis of your lumbar spine. In addition, such posture causes excessive rounding of your thoracic spine & causes forward chin & shoulders. That position is not good for your neck. If you are sitting on your couch for any length of time, use the sofa cushions, pillows or blankets to support your low and mid back thus making you sit more upright. Even if your couch reclines, do the same to minimize posterior pelvic tilt.
Desk: A number of hours are typically spent in front of a computer screen. If you lack the funds to have an ergonomic chair or computer screen, consider kneeling on sofa pillows rather than sitting. This automatically prevents loss of the lumbar lordosis as described above. Use enough pillows to raise you to a level so that your forearms are level with the floor and not angled up or down while using the keyboard. The monitor can be raised with books such that your eyes can easily gaze to see the top & bottom portions of the screen. Raising the computer screen helps to avoid tucking your chin to look downward, which strains your neck.
Options to sitting on a couch: As an alternative to sitting on your couch, try sitting on the floor with your back up against the couch. You can sit on a cushion to help raise your height. I find that sitting on a yoga bolster if you have one is perfect for this. Your legs will be crossed with your knees dangling lower than the height of your hips.
Reading: Avoid reading with your book, phone or newspaper lying flat on a surface. Doing so causes you to look down & cause excessive neck flexion. Ideally, try propping your reading material up like it was on a music sheet stand. Cheap one-dollar shelf liner is good for preventing items from sliding.
Neck pillows: If you wake up and you head, neck, shoulders or upper back hurt, it may be that your pillow is not correct. There are many orthopedic recommended pillows out there, but if you’re on a budget, even purchasing one, which may or may not be the right one for you can be an expensive venture. Try rolling up a hand towel and securing the ends with rubber bands so the towel doesn’t unroll. Place the rolled up towel behind your neck. Use your existing pillow or no pillow at all to see if this helps reduce discomfort in the morning. The towel serves to promote the natural curvature in her neck. In general, avoid excessive support to the neck and shoulders, which again promotes too much neck flexion.
There are a number of other easy modifications you can make on your home so that the ergonomics of your existing furniture do not wreak havoc on your body and cause pain. If you would like further guidance and tips, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The principles described above can be adapted to most home situations and abilities. Good luck!