Due to the ongoing COVID 19 health care pandemic many of us have had to suddenly transition to working from home to adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines. Many people undoubtedly decided that this would be a great opportunity to slouch on the couch or work from the comfort of your bed. I imagine most people realised very quickly that although it was a novelty this wasn’t the greatest idea when your back, neck and shoulders.
So, what is the answer to maintain a healthy spine and shoulders whilst working from home during this extraordinary time? Is it have a perfectly set up ergonomic environment or is it exercise regularly and move? The truth of the matter is that is a mixture of both however the percentage split certainly weights much more heavily on the movement side of things. My favourite quote from an industry leading expert on ergonomics is “People often ask me ‘what’s the best ergonomic chair?’, and I say, ‘a wooden church bench’. Because you’ll feel so uncomfortable that you’ll have to get up after a half-hour.”
Our recommendations in Platinum physio are movement, movement, movement and that you become a little more proactive about your working environment to encourage and maintain pain free activity.
So here are our top tips to set up your home working environment.
- Do not abandon routine. If like me, you used your commute to work as an opportunity to plan your day try incorporating a walk first thing in the morning sticking roughly to your previous wake up time. Give yourself a little flexibility to enjoy that extra 20 minutes in bed but be hard on yourself don’t let that 20 minutes become an hour. Have breaks and lunch at your usual times
- Use your ergonomic set up as a reference point to return to after getting up and moving for 2 minutes every 30 minutes. Simple tips to set up a great ergonomics reference point:
- Adjust your chair so that when your buttocks are right at the back of your chair, your feet rest flat on the floor, and your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
- Adjust your desk to ensure that when your shoulders are relaxed back and down, your forearms rest horizontally on the table.
For more in-depth information and guidance book a home office/exercise assessment with one of our expert Physios
- Many workplaces are starting to embrace sitting and standing desks. These allow you to sit for some periods of the day, and then adjust your desk to be able to stand. This helps employees to move more regularly, lowering their risk of cardiovascular problems, musculoskeletal aches and pains and other related complications. This is also manageable at home. Use a breakfast table/kitchen counter or ironing board regularly to facilitate a standing position. It may not be feasible to do so every 30 minutes but to stand as often as possible would be a huge benefit to your general health.
- If your laptop is your only computer, get a separate Bluetooth keyboard/mouse and a laptop stand. These do not have to be expensive but will allow you to achieve a similar ergonomic set-up to your desktop in work. If working on your laptop or tablet is unavoidable, ensure you find the most suitable place to work as outlined below, and take more regular breaks.
- Make sure your working environment at home is as optimal as possible. Temperature’s that are too hot or too cold, can increase your likelihood of stress and physical aches and pains. It can also affect your concentration as can noise, be it from your family or your own music. Poor lighting will strain your eyes. Make sure there isn’t a bright light coming from any angle as this can cause unnecessary strain.
Many people do not have the commitment, space or funds to purchase ergonomic furniture. If so, follow the simple rules as above and book an online workstation/movement assessment with one of our expert physio’s here in platinum physio.