Working From Home? Home Office Ergonomics
By The Doctors at Active Health KC
Working from home these days? Working remotely was already a growing option for many Americans, and now the latest coronavirus pandemic has turned that option into a necessity for far more. However, working from the comfort of your own home isn’t always comfortable.
The Importance of Posture
We talk about office ergonomics with many of our patients. In most situations, this usually involves a dedicated office area with a desk and chair. For many people now forced to work at home, that might not be an option. So how do you maintain good posture with a sub-optimal workplace? For starters, don’t worry about a “perfect posture.” We’ve blogged before about that, so definitely give that one a read if you haven’t already. However, I’ll sum up a few of the highlights from that post:
1. Perfect posture doesn’t exist
2. Posture alone isn’t correlated to pain
3. If a certain position/posture feels great, do more of it. Conversely, if a certain position increases your pain, do less of it.
4. The best posture is your next one. We’re made to move, not to be still.
Does anything change when working from home?
So while these points about posture don’t really change as you go home, there are a few extra tips about ergonomics that may help if you’re working from home.
1. Take advantage of new positions! At work, your only options for positions might be between sitting with legs uncrossed or sitting with legs crossed. If you’re lucky, you might have a standing desk as another option. But at home, you can sit on the recliner, sit on the couch, stand up in the kitchen, lay down on the floor, sit on a medicine ball, and on and on. Your options are limitless. Our bodies are made to move and go into different positions, so try to switch positions every 30 minutes.
2. If you’re using a laptop while sitting, buy an extra keyboard or extra monitor. If the only computer you use at home is a laptop, that means your head is always looking down at the screen. We look down far too often already, so let’s minimize any addition. If you have an extra monitor, place that at eye level and then use the laptop for typing. Have an extra keyboard around? Put the laptop on some thick books and then type with the extra keyboard. Laying down on your stomach and elbows in bed? That is the perfect time to use the laptop as the screen will be roughly in line with your head.
3. Take micro-breaks every 30 minutes. Before you switch to your next position (or room), take a little micro-break. Run around the house with your kids. Bust out 5 push-ups. Stretch your hip flexors. Take 10 deep breaths. Do SOMETHING for a minute or two, and then get back to work! It’ll give your mind and body a little break and you’ll be more productive (and less stiff) over the course of the workday.
It’ll probably be a while before most of us get back to our “normal” work routine so try and get some of these recommendations into your routine right away. Obviously, proper health is essential during this time so stay in a good routine with your nutrition and sleep in addition to your work.
Jeff Remsburg, DC, MS, DACRB, Cert. MDT