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Home Office Ergonomics

April 20th, 2020

Did you know that prolonged sitting can shorten your hamstrings and hip flexors, contribute to neck and low back pain, and even diminish core strength? The last couple of weeks brought big changes for many individuals, as we’re spending all of our time at home. Now more than ever people are working from home. Take a look at your workspace and focus on these FOUR areas to help make your workspace more ergonomic.

#1 Work Space

Space

The worst mistake you can do is not have a dedicated space to work. It may be the kitchen table or home office. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself on the sofa or laying in compromised positions for far too long, which is not good for your body. Lighting and windows are also important. Keep in-mind the monitor should be the brightest thing in the room for ease of your eyes and reduction of glare.

Technology

Most of us work off a laptop, but it would be best if you had a separate (wireless) keyboard and mouse and use your laptop as a monitor. If you have a separate monitor, you get bonus points!

#2 Posture

Sitting Posture

It’s important to keep (and maintain) a “neutral posture” for all sitting and standing activities you do.

A neutral seated posture should include sitting with the neck straight, shoulders straight down loosely at the sides, elbows at a right angle, wrists straight, low back supported on the backrest of the chair, 90o at the hips, 90o at the knees, and feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. Your forearms & thighs should be parallel to the floor.

Find a posture that allows you to see the screen while sitting back in a way that provides lower back support, too. A rolled-up towel might be a great addition to the back of your chair. You might find it’s similar to sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, slightly leaning back.

#3 Positioning

Where and how you position the tools you use is important for you to stay injury and ache-free while working. We’ve all seen the diagrams, here’ a version from the Mayo Clinic.

Mouse & Keyboard

Whether seated and standing – ensure that the keyboard (ASDF home row) and mouse are positioned at the elbow level. 

Monitor

Most kitchen tables are too high so you’ll have to add books under monitor. The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye height. Ensure your monitor is placed 20-40 inches (about an arm’s length) away from the eyes. The monitor distance should be about 20 inches when using a small screen or a laptop screen and further away as the screen size gets larger.  Dual monitors should be located close together and at the same height and distance so that the eyes do not have to re-focus and the head does not turn significantly when looking between the monitors.

Chair

Use a good, solid chair. If you don’t have a good chair, add pillows for back/leg support and possibly sit on a few pillows to get a little more height, leg and back support. Do both feet firmly touch the ground while sitting? Then support your feet on a phone book, step stool, etc..

#4 Habits & Behavior

Without frequent standing/walking breaks, our activity routine and limited steps we subject ourselves to significant postural changes and possibly even creating issues.

Change it up for different tasks! If you take a phone call, do laps around your house. Listen to your voicemails laying on your back on the ground. Sit cross-legged (to open your hips) while checking emails on your phone.

We’re here if you need us!

Pain is no fun! It will limit your ability to stay productive during your worktime and playtime. If you find yourself having questions or suffering with pain, schedule a virtual assessment. Not every body is the same, and you may need a couple things adjusted for your body. You can talk to your PT about that today!

Schedule here

Sources:

https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/ergonomics-home-office-work-at-home-setup-spinal-back-health.html

https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/everything-you-need-to-set-up-an-ergonomic-home-office

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