WORKING FROM HOME- POSTURE, ERGONOMICS, WORKSTATION DESIGN
By: Kelly Gibson
With so many of us adopting a work-from-home set up, it’s time for a check in! Are you suffering with neck or shoulder pain? Headaches? Low back pain? A few simple adjustments to your workstation set-up can go a long way to finding relief and also preventing those aches and pains in the first place!
Chances are that if you’re reading this you’re sitting, so let’s start there…
Learn how the way you sit can help save your BODY!
Let’s hope your new office hasn’t become your laptop and your couch! The seat you choose should be firm to support your weight vs. cushy to the point of sinking into poor positions! Seat height is also important so we can distribute weight on both our pelvis and our feet. If the chair has arms, be sure you can tuck in under the desk if needed so you don’t end up reaching forward to your work!
Here are some helpful tips:
- Find a *neutral* spine position for sitting to avoid extra stress on your postural muscles. From there, keep your ab muscles on! Aim for tension that’s about 20% of maximum – something you can maintain without much effort – not 100% of your max!
- Keep the leg and foot stance wide to provide more support. “Criss-cross-applesauce” in your chair is also good if it’s comfortable for you, but avoid sitting with one leg crossed over the other!
*Not sure how to find a neutral spine when sitting? At the low back, aim to find the “happy medium” between tilting your hips forward and tucking them under (Imagine the pelvis as a bucket of water. Forward tilt
is as if pouring water out of the bucket and into your lap, and tilting under would pour water out and over your waistband behind you!)
2. Your body will follow your eyes, so let’s check in on your monitor…
If you find you’re looking down and/or jutting your head forward, the neck and upper back muscles are already overloaded! Every inch forward your head travels in front of you, an extra 10 pounds of strain has to be supported!
Here are some key points:
- The top of the monitor should be eye level to keep your head and neck aligned.
- Whether at a desktop or laptop, position the monitor such that you can keep your head aligned over your shoulders and your gaze straight ahead.
3. Keys for a better keyboard!
Working at home, the keyboard becomes a literal extension of our fingertips! Sitting close to the keys goes a long way to keeping a solid posture while you’re working. Also,
- Keep upper arms close to your body, elbows under shoulders, and wrists in line with forearms
- The keyboard position should also allow your forearms to align parallel to the floor while you’re working and elbows ideally bent to about 90 degrees
4. Conquering the Mouse
It’s a tiny little thing, but poor mechanics here can wreak havoc on your wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck!
- Place the mouse close to the keyboard and aim to initiate moving it with your shoulder – not just your wrist!
- Aim your forearm straight ahead. Your forearm should be floating/hovering while your hand rests on the mouse (rather than resting your arm on your desk!)
So… What about laptops?
Since the screen is connected to the keyboard, we need to make some compromises here! Test out how you feel with the top of your screen at about neck height. I’ve opted to purchase an external keyboard to keep me pain-free and focused.
5. Start taking mini movement breaks while you work!
So it’s last on the list, but it’s the top solution for both the prevention and treatment of many common aches and pains. No matter how perfect your sitting posture may be, staying in one position too long is going to come back to haunt you! The best posture is a moving one!
- Take regular mini stretch breaks (especially for the neck, upper back and shoulders, forearms and hip flexors)
- Shift in your chair and move your joints, even while you sit (think wrist circles, ankle circles, neck side bends)
- Aim for 2 minutes of moving every 20-30 mins! We all get into the groove with work and time can fly. Set a timer to go off after 90 minutes of focused work to remind your body to get up and move!
The most important takeaway is that even with the best possible workstation set-up, your body needs movement to survive! Need some guidance and inspiration?
Interested to learn if we can help. Book a COMPLIMENTARY CONSULTATION now.