While working from home certainly has its perks – easy access to snacks and a sweatshirt uniform are the main competitors, there are also some downsides that come with the territory – for one thing, my studio apartment isn’t the most spacious, so I have postponed buying a desk. To cope, I have been working from the couch, which too often gives me the feeling that I should relax instead of work. Also, one day on the couch leaves my back hunched and tense.
A few weeks ago, I made some changes. In an effort to feel more like an upright worker, I decided to have my coffee table replace a desk and ditch the idea of a chair entirely. I’ve never been happier going to work: sitting cross-legged on the mat, I feel less slow, more mindful of my posture, and much more comfortable than I would be if I had to unfold from any semi-horizontal position. used to be on the couch.
Of course, it is nothing innovative to sing the praises of sitting on the floor: in his book The chair: rethinking culture, the body and design, architecture professor Galen Cranz writes that sitting, often cross-legged or squatting, is a normal posture for everyday life and work in various cultures: “The reasons for sitting on the floor, on mats, rugs, platforms, Chinese k’ang, or stools come from cultural traditions… Around the world, the chair and the chair seat have become a symbol, and sometimes direct evidence, of Westernization. But despite its ubiquity (and my comfort), it was unclear to me whether sitting on the floor had benefits from a medical perspective.
So I consulted with some experts to see if sitting on the floor affects our physical well-being and if I was correct in leaving my couch so quickly.
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Your circulation could improve …
Robert Trager, DC, a chiropractor with the UH Connor Integrative Health Network of Ohio, highlights research that has linked sitting cross-legged or hooked on the floor with improved circulation, as well as the hypothesis that Sitting on the floor may work more to reduce leg swelling and the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (a condition in which blood clots in the veins of the legs, causing cramps and pain).
… And also its strength and flexibility
Dr. Trager points to studies that suggest that sitting on the floor can strengthen hip mobility and even reduce the risk of future knee osteoarthritis. He also mentions that being able to sit up and get up off the floor relatively easily is a sign of overall muscle and skeletal health, implying that getting a bit used (and comfortable) to sitting on the floor every now and then could be a problem. wise long-term decision.
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Sitting on the floor can cause (or contribute to) chronic pain
Despite its potential benefits, Dr. Trager notes that among people who spend hours working in a sitting position on the floor, sitting on the floor has been associated with increased hip and lower back pain. Along those lines, research suggests that people who have had lower back surgery should probably avoid sitting on the floor altogether.
It could also affect your spinal shape
Talk R. Fischer, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Spine Center, explains that working all day on the floor misaligns the spine, and the babysitter often leans forward to feel more comfortable. In turn, he says, spending too much time in a hunched position can lead to signs of lumbar kyphosis or an exaggerated rounding of the back. It is for this reason that he does not recommend sitting on the floor for the WFH group: “Not a good position for long work.”
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Antimo Gazzillo, MD, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation at UH Broadview Heights Health Center in Ohio, says the best seat to work with is a “support chair with good lumbar support.” But, if your seating options are limited or if you are actually quite comfortable working on the floor, Dr. Gazzillo recommends placing your laptop on a raised surface (like a coffee table) and sitting on a floor pillow to avoid slouching and encourage a neutral spine. “We generally recommend a more neutral posture, close to 90 degrees, so you can look at your computer screen,” he says.
Regardless of how you feel and work, don’t get stuck in a rut
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that prolonged periods of sitting, wherever you sit, is not good for your health. Doing so, says Dr. Fischer, “can cause pain and injury to the back muscles. If your job requires you to sit at a computer all day, try to take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes, says Dr. Trager. And definitely try to avoid working from your chair, says Dr. Gazzillo: “Soft and comfortable is not always the best for back support.”
With all of this in mind, I plan to improve my routine of sitting on the floor with a pillow, pencil on more walks and stretching breaks, but continue to resist the siren song of the couch.
Which WFH Configuration Works Best For You? Let us know in the comments below.