Monday, March 30, 2020

Working from Home Ergonomically & Pain-Free

photo by manny pantoja/unsplash

Because of the community quarantine, many of us are now working from home, and it's now the new norm! But most of us likely do not have the same workstation setup at home that is available in our typical offices.  At home, our workstation may be a laptop computer on a couch, bed, dining table or kitchen table. It may sound comfortable, but using an improper workspace setup for a long time can cause neck and back pains, sore wrists and fingers, posture problems which can increase the risk for ergonomic related injuries (or musculoskeletal disorders such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome).  So, it is important to set up your workstation as best you can to prevent injury regardless of where you work.

Here's a video from The New York Post where Matthew Devoe, a Manhattan-based Chiropractor shares 5 tips that will keep you sitting up straight, and working from home ergonomically, and pain-free.

Get off the couch
Although it might be tempting to splay out on your sectional, working from your sofa is one of the worst things you can do for your long-term back health. “I have never seen anyone be able to maintain both their cervical and lumbar lordosis while sitting on any kind of couch for extended periods of time,” says Devoe, referring to when your lower back curves inward too much. Maintain spine health by going for a chair or a barstool during working hours.

Make your own standing desk
Even if you’re sitting, you might need to elevate your computer. “The middle of your screen should be in line with your eyes while you’re working, not below,” Devoe says. Some no-no spots for your laptop? “Never on your lap, definitely not on your coffee table,” he says. Instead, “your laptop should be elevated approximately 6 to 12 inches above your desk,” he says. Use books or boxes to get to that sweet spot.

Go wireless (even more wireless)
A wireless keyboard and mouse might not seem as alluring as a bottle of wine or an extra box of cookies. But “this is the only thing you may need to buy to not end up in my office once this is all over.” If your computer is elevated to the proper height, it will be hard to use the keyboard and mouse on high without shrugging your shoulders. 

Stay put
Devoe suggests setting up a workspace in your apartment and staying put. “Once you start thinking you can work from bed, it’s all over,” he says. “Be consistent with where your designated work space is,” he says. That way you won’t slip when it comes to elevating your screen, and sitting up in a real chair.

Take breaks from your screen
Limiting screen time might be out of the question while working from home, but you should still step away “for five minutes once every hour of screen time,” says Devoe. Beyond checking the fridge or walking your dog, five minutes of standing up and walking around “will reset your body’s natural position and prevent you from getting comfortable in the wrong position.”

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