It’s a familiar scenario in the COVID era: people working from various rooms in their home. None of which are necessarily set up as an office space with proper ergonomics.
Cue the back pain, and tension in the upper traps, wrists or neck! Although working from the couch or kitchen counter has been a convenient go-to for many, avoidable aches and pains have sprung up as a result.
Modifying your space at home (or in the office!)
Adjust your chair height. Regardless of the surface you are sitting on (exercise ball, stool, chair), your feet should rest flat on the ground. Your knees will be bent at 90 degrees and thighs parallel to the ground. If a chair with ideal height requirements is not accessible, you could place a foot stool or a few blocks under your feet.
Ensure proper distance from your workstation. The best way to gauge proper distance is to keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees, and your forearms parallel to the floor. Sufficient distance will also help keep your wrists in an ideal position. It will also eliminate strain and pain that could develop from being overly flexed or extended. If you work with a laptop, think about using a wireless keyboard and mouse (as opposed to the track pad) to eliminate any avoidable reaching throughout your workday.
Tweak monitor height and distance. Reach your arm out in front of you while seated. Your fingertips should reach, or almost reach your monitor. Next, adjust the height of your monitor. The top should be at eye level. If you’re working with a laptop, consider propping it up on books, yoga blocks, or whatever else you can find that will be a stable prop. Proper monitor height and distance will help maintain your neck in a neutral position. This will prevent your shoulders and upper back from rounding forward.
Modifying your habits
Keep weight in your sits bones. Placing weight in your sits bones, or ischial tuberosities, puts your pelvis in an optimal position. It will also prevent you from rounding your lower back and directing your weight to the wrong areas.
Support your lower back. This is an optional tip for ergonomics. Many people find it more comfortable to use a stool or large exercise ball. If you are someone who finds yourself tucking through your pelvis and rounding through the lower back in a chair with support, you may find it helpful to use a small pillow or a rolled towel to prevent this position from occurring.
Take breaks. This is the best tip for proper ergonomics. Nobody likes to be in one position for too long, so change it up! Get a glass of water, use the bathroom, go for a quick walk, or do some stretches or anything that will get you up and allow your body a quick reset.
These are just a few tips. You might find that some yield better results than others. We all have different bodies and vary in our capacity to move and be comfortable. Experiment and see what works best for you! If you have any questions about proper work ergonomics or would like to consult with a practitioner, book an appointment with Bloom today.
Written by Andrea Desgroseilliers, DC. She provides treatments in person or online at Bloom from Tuesday – Saturday.
Disclaimer – Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.