Oregonians are working from home – and now schooling at home. We're all spending way more time on our computers trying to get comfortable in unlikely spots. Suppose you've been hanging on your porch, your couch, or even your kitchen counter logging hours on a laptop or tablet. In that case, you're not doing your body any favors.
The long-term effects of poor posture should not be underestimated. Carpal tunnel, headaches, “tech neck,” and many other nagging complaints can be mitigated with ergonomics. Ergonomic work arrangements utilize an applied science concerning the working environment's design and layout to maximize health and efficiency. By paying attention to your posture and your work apparatus's position, you'll avoid discomfort – and potential chiropractic bills!
These ergonomic tips will keep you healthy and productive in your work-from-home environment.
Arm and hand position
It's difficult to avoid hand numbness and shoulder and neck pain when working on a laptop. The attached aspect of the screen and keyboard is virtually impossible to position in a way that keeps your posture neutral. If you can, work on a desktop, or buy a separate keyboard and mouse to properly place your arms and hands.
- Your keyboard should be level with, or below your elbows
- Adjust your keyboard with a lowering tray, or try raising up your seat by adding a pillow
- Your elbows should rest comfortably close to your body
- A chair with arm support can take the pressure off your arms, wrist, and shoulders
- Strive for a 90-degree angle at your elbows
You've heard of "tech neck," right? It is a strain on your neck caused by looking down at your device too long. It's usually referring to a mobile phone, but it's just as expected with a poor workstation. Make sure your screen is at eye level. Again, this usually means being able to separate your screen from your keyboard.
Butt, feet, and back
You’ll get a tired butt from simply sitting too long – but being hunched over, or propped on a stool, can do a number on your spine.
- Your knees should be hip level and 90 degrees
- Keep your feet flat on the floor, or use a footrest if you’re at a taller chair height
- Consider investing in a specific ergonomic chair designed for office work
A note on the exercise-ball-as-seat-trend: According to the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders, “The use of stability balls as a chair may actually increase the risk of developing low back discomfort and may increase the risk of sustaining an injury due to the unstable nature of the balls.” However, a "wiggle" seat, a type of mobility cushion placed on top of a hard chair, is an excellent tool for children who have difficulty sitting still.
Take a break
The best thing you can do for yourself when working from home or office is to take breaks. Get up, stretch, and walk around. It's good for your body and your brain.
Having a general knowledge about home office ergonomics can help you design the right space for maximum efficiency. Most importantly, it can help you decrease the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries or unwanted body pain.
Want to find out more about setting up an ergonomic work station? Contact us about our Home Office Success workshop! Email [email protected] or call (503) 574-4872 to be added to our next session!