Ergonomic posture for a WFH set-up
Dr. Manasi Anand

Dr. Manasi Anand

Feb 01General wellness

Ergonomic posture for a WFH set-up

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is a science-based discipline that combines subjects like anatomy and physiology, psychology, engineering and statistics to ensure that designs enhance the abilities of people and minimise their limitations. Rather than expecting people to adapt to poor design, ergonomically designed products adapt to people’s needs.

To prevent chronic health issues and enhance your wellbeing, it’s important to implement a proper workplace regimen that will improve your posture through ergonomic principles.

What are the effects of bad posture?

1. Spine problems - Over time, poor posture can cause the natural curves of the spine to change shape, putting an excessive amount of pressure on the spine. Our spines are built to absorb shock, but bad posture can slowly deteriorate this natural ability, putting you at risk for more serious injury in the future. Slouching forward puts pressure between your shoulder blades and causes the flattening of your back muscles. If you notice pain below the neck and around your tailbone after long hours of work, you are likely not sitting straight.

2. Neck pain and headaches - The strain on your neck due to the tightening of the neck muscles can lead to tension headaches.

3. Carpal tunnel syndrome - Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve which is the main nerve that runs along your forearm. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm. Wrist support or wrist band can be used to prevent this. A chair with an armrest is necessary for supporting the elbows.

4. Disrupted digestion - Neglecting to pay attention to your posture, especially if you’re working long hours at a desk, can compress your organs which can slow the digestive process and cause stomach issues.

5. Lack of motivation - With a bad posture, your focus will be on feeling uncomfortable rather than the task at hand which can subdue your motivation to work.


What is a good posture?

Posture is the alignment in which we hold our bodies while sitting, standing and lying down. Good posture is the correct alignment of different parts of the body supported by the right amount of muscle tension.


While sitting at your workstation, keep the following points in mind -

  • Avoid sitting on sofas/couches
  • Keep your head upright over your shoulders
  • Make sure the direction of your eyes are pointed slightly downward
  • Do not bend your neck
  • Do not slouch your shoulders. Keep them relaxed.
  • Make sure your chair has a proper backrest that supports the natural curve of your spine. Place a small pillow against your lower back for support.
  • The elbows have to be bent at almost a 90 degree angle and almost parallel to your desk.
  • Keep your forearms relaxed
  • Make sure your keyboard is slightly away from the edge of your desk. This will prevent unnecessary pressure on your wrists as they will rest on the desk and not at the edge.
  • Your thighs have to be horizontal and parallel to the floor
  • Make sure your feet are not dangling and that they are placed on the floor. Use a foot rest if necessary.

Maintaining the above mentioned positions for longer periods of time will be uncomfortable and that is completely normal. To relieve stress, make sure you get up from your desk every 45 minutes and stand/walk around for a while before sitting back down. This will remove stiffness and promote good circulation of blood in your body.

Always be aware and mindful. It is easy to forget and allow our body to subconsciously slouch or maintain stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

It helps to invest in ergonomic chairs. These chairs will keep your back well rested and reduce any undue strain. If it isn't possible to purchase one, make modifications to your chair at home. If your chair is too low, add pillows to adjust your height. If your chair is too high, make sure you elevate your computer/laptop to your eye level to prevent hunching.

Easy exercises to do while you’re working from home.

1. 20-20-20 rule- If you find yourself gazing at screens all day, follow this easy-to-do exercise that will relieve stress on your eyes. Every 20 minutes spent in front of a screen, look away at something 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds.

2. Trapezius muscle exercises ( neck, shoulders and back )

  • Neck rolls - Keep your shoulders relaxed and slowly rotate your neck 360 degrees while breathing steadily.
  • Shoulder shrugs - Raise both your shoulders as high as you can, as if you were trying to touch them to your ears while keeping your head and neck still.
  • Shoulder rolls - Start off with the shoulder shrug and move them back and down in a circular motion
  • Butterfly wings - Sit up straight and touch your fingertips to your shoulders with your elbows pointed out to the side. Keeping the fingers in place, exhale and slowly pull your elbows together in front of you until they touch. Breathe in and allow your arms to move to their original position.

3. Pectoralis muscle (chest muscle) stretch - Stand in your doorway with your right foot placed forward and your right palm against the doorframe at a 90 degree angle. Carefully lean forward while pushing your chest muscles outward. Hold for 20 seconds. Do the same with the left leg and arm.

4. Quadriceps muscle (thigh muscle) stretch - Grab your right foot using your right hand and pull it towards your buttocks. Stand on your left leg with both knees touching. You can hold onto a chair and take support from a wall if needed. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then repeat, switching from your left leg to your right.

5. Ankle toe movements - While in a seated position, stretch your legs forward and rotate them clockwise and counterclockwise. Another exercise that can be done is by placing your heel on the floor and move your toes up and down. Similarly, place your toes on the floor and lift your heel up and down.


Dr Manasi recollects an incident when she was conducting a workshop on good posture at the workplace at a corporate event. One of the employees complained of wrist pain and numbness that extended up the arm. Upon observing his desk, she noticed that his desk and chair were badly positioned, causing him to undergo unnecessary strain and pressure. This is quite common in the IT sector. The employees have to spend long hours at their workstations and tend to neglect their posture. This can lead to back problems in the future. Hence, it is important to be aware and mindful while spending long hours at your work desk.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for medical advice or treatment.