Whether you work from home full time, remotely, or because you are in self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are you spend most of your time in front of a computer screen. A workstation at your home might consist of perching over your kitchen counter, sitting on your couch, or lying in bed with your laptop. Although working from home might sound comfortable, physiotherapists indicate that it can increase your risks of developing pain, discomfort, and injury, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
In reality, you may not get access to the pieces of ergonomic equipment that you utilize in the workplace daily. But it is still vital to consider home workstation ergonomics to prevent injuries. You can make some small changes to your workspace and habits that will reduce stress on your body and boost your productivity. Here are some useful tips to help you improve your home office ergonomics.
Maintain a good posture at all times
You should sit up straight while resting the back against your chair from time to time, but you should avoid leaning forward. It is also important to vary your posture during the working day because sitting in the same chair or position all day might lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain. For instance, you can begin your day sitting on a soft couch, then change to a standing position and later move to your coffee table. We also recommend you to read our blog post regarding how to correct your posture.
Elevate your monitor or screen
Generally, laptops are not ergonomically good because the keyboard will be extremely high, or the monitor will be overly low. It is also recommended you utilize a mouse and keyboard that are separate from your screen or monitor. If possible, the top of your screen should be below the eye level to avoid straining your neck when reading. You can raise your laptop or screen by using a stack of books or shoe boxes. However, you should bring it down to a level that enables you to bend your arms at an angle of 90 degrees when you want to type to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed.
Raise your chair
Putting a thin pillow beneath your seat can help you make an ordinary chair more comfortable. If you do not have some small pillows, you can fold a fluffy towel to get the same effect. Covering the back of your chair with a soft towel can also help make your seat feel plush. Also, if you are working at a table or desk that is extremely high, you can raise your seat by sitting on a soft cushion.
Use a cushion for lumbar support
A good home office chair is essential to avoid back pain and discomfort. If you are utilizing a dining table chair, you can try placing a soft cushion or rolled towel behind your back to enhance lumbar support. Using lumbar support pillows on the back of the pelvis can increase your level of comfort when seated, especially if you have low back pain issues. You don’t have to invest in fancy pillows to get this effect; you can roll a fluffy towel and place it between your lower back and chair.
Support your feet
Supporting your legs on a raised surface, or stretching them long increases circulation and makes you feel good. You should keep your feet flat on the floor, but if they do not firmly touch the ground when you are sitting, you can put a step stool or a shoebox underneath. Generally, your thighs and hips should create 90 degrees angles when you sit in your home office chair. However, you can move your legs back and forth to exercise them. Also, having a reclining chair is an excellent option because it will provide you with good support for your feet.
Take short breaks and exercise regularly
Many people take some short breaks frequently to walk around when working in an office-bound setting. However, limiting screen time when working from home may be out of the question because most people tend to remain focused. It would be best to take breaks of three to five minutes in every hour of screen time. You can stand and walk around the house or even do quick stretches at the desk or table you are using.
Furthermore, you can walk your puppy or add some regular exercises, even if it is a low-level activity. A few minutes of standing up, walking around, and doing some exercise is vital to avoid back pain and also keep your body more healthy. Besides, it will also help prevent you from getting too comfortable in the wrong position and assist in resetting the natural position of your body.
Invest in a comfortable chair and desk
If you are working from home remotely, on a full-time basis, or due to self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should consider investing in a height-adjustable, comfortable chair and a well-designed desk. You don’t have to purchase a fancy desk, but it should at least allow some clearance for your feet. Online shopping might be tempting, but it is advisable to take ample time to test different chair models in person before making your purchase. You can try a chair with a backrest that easily adapts to the body, regardless of whether it is providing cushioned support for the arms or a curve for the spine, or the right lumbar support amount.
So, we have seen some cheap and incredibly creative ways to enhance your work from home office ergonomics. If you need further assistance, Pro Fusion Rehab is currently offering workstation assessments that cover the fundamentals of an ergonomic workplace and resources that guide you on how well you can set up your home workstation using the resources you currently have.
Our Physiotherapists can help with many work-related injuries like overuse injury, repetitive strain, lifting injury, sudden traumatic injury, and musculoskeletal injuries too. At Profusion Rehab, you will get evidence-based treatment, which includes hands-on approaches, with some supervised exercise programs that aim to help workers get back on their feet and return to work.