Work From Home

Jan 24th, 2022

How can I stay physically and mentally healthy while working from home? 

Like many of us, you may be working from home right now. It can be difficult to stay active given the harsh changes many of us have endured over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Perhaps your work life has infiltrated your home life and it is now difficult to distinguish the two, or maybe you don’t have access to the same materials and equipment as you do at your place of employment.  

So, how can you boost your physical and mental health during these unprecedented times? 

How can I maintain my posture and support my back without a proper desk chair at home? 

A common issue surrounding working from home is seating. Not everyone has been able to retrieve their desk chair from their place of work. This forces employees to use chairs that lack proper lumbar (lower back) support for sustained periods of sitting. This can result in poor posture and back pain. 

Here are five ways you can maintain your posture and eliminate lower back pain while working from home: 

  1. Set a reminder to check your posture: A sticky note on your desk or computer screen can be a constant reminder to check your sitting position. 

  1. Shoulder blade squeeze: Sit up straight in your chair with your chin parallel to the ground. Place both feet flat on the floor. Rest your palms on your thighs. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears (like you’re shrugging), then rotate them backwards until you feel your shoulder blades squeezing together. Lastly, drop your shoulders down as if you are tucking them into your back pocket. Hold this position for 5 seconds and relax. You can repeat these steps 3-5 times every hour while seated. 

  1. Standing stretches: Try to stand up every hour and perform the following stretch. You will need a corner in your home. Stand facing the corner and raise your arms above your head. Place your palms flat on each wall making up the corner. Place your left leg forward and lean towards the corner. Try not to let your palms slip down the wall. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat with your right leg. 

  1. Seated leg holds: While seated, lift your left leg up and bend your knee. This should result in your knee pointing towards the ceiling. With your other leg still flat on the ground, grasp the back of your raised thigh with both hands. Gently pull your leg towards your body. Keep your back straight at all times and do not lean forwards. Hold this position for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat these steps with your right leg. This will stretch your lower back. 

  1. Experiment with different seating arrangements: If a proper desk chair is not at your disposal, you do not necessarily have to resort to a conventional chair. Experiment with a yoga ball or even try standing while working. Changing your working position can alleviate back pain that may have been caused by a non-ergonomic chair or poor posture while seated. Who knows, you may find a new working position you love and never look back! 

I feel as though I have no separation of my work life from my home life. What can I do to change this? 

It can be very difficult to work from home when new obstacles present themselves daily. Maybe you are managing work while your kids run rampant around the house, or maybe you have another person also working from home in the same space as you.  

Typically, home is the place where you leave work behind and enjoy time alone or with family, but during these times it seems that the feeling of coming home after a long day of work or school has lost all meaning. 

Here are three ways you can maintain a healthy work life balance: 

  1. Work from the least used space in your home: For example, working from your living room or your couch may cause you to associate this space with work, when it is your relaxation space. For college students, avoid doing schoolwork in your bed! Your bed is a resting place and doing schoolwork from there can cause you to associate it with school. Instead, find an odd or unused space in your home to complete work from. This space can then be your designated work area. Get creative! 

  1. Swap spaces with someone: This one is best for university students. Perhaps you live in a small apartment with little unused space to set up a workstation. If you have roommates, try allocating two hours per day where you swap study spaces. After the two hours are up, you can return to your own space. This creates a work-life boundary, rather than working and living all in the same place. 

  1. Only work professional hours: Possibly the most important tip. It can be easy when working from home to work longer than your typical hours. Try your best to set a firm timeline of when to start and stop working. If you normally finish at the office at 3:30 pm, make sure that holds true while working from home. That thing your boss asked you to do at 3:29 pm can certainly be done in the morning. 


Need more ideas? Give us a call at HPC to speak to one of our physiotherapists about taking care of your body while working from home. 

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*About the HPC Student Volunteer Program* 

Each year, approximately 30 University of Guelph students are selected following a competitive application process to take part in the “HPC Volunteer Program.” This program provides an opportunity for U of G student volunteers to translate their academic knowledge into practice, while gaining first-hand experience and mentorship from the team of certified physiotherapists and chiropractors at the University of Guelph’s Health and Performance Centre. As a result of this exceptional partnership between the University of Guelph and the HPC practitioners, students can gain valuable insight on evidence-based practice prior to graduating from their respective programs. Click here for more information on co-curricular experiential learning opportunities at the University of Guelph. This article was written by members of the 2021-22 HPC Student Volunteer Program. 


Harvard Health Publishing. (2015). 4 ways to turn good Posture into less back pain. Retrieved March 20, 2021, from