With the switch to working-from-home that many are currently experiencing, one consequence may be increased aches and pains due to the lack of ergonomic equipment to maintain appropriate posture throughout the day. Many employees are using their laptops as their primary device, but laptops were designed with maximum portability (not ergonomics) in mind. This can result in poor head/neck and hand/wrist posture and lead to increased pain. In addition, most people don’t have an adjustable chair, which can exacerbate back and leg pain. The good news is that there are small adjustments you can make to improve your ergonomics at home. Below are some suggestions from the UF/GatorCare Wellness team.
No matter whether you work remotely or at the office, there are three important ergonomic rules everyone should follow: First, maintain a neutral posture; Second, use a chair that supports your back; Third, position your computer monitor at eye level. Here are some additional tips:
- Improve your posture- Even if you feel comfortable on your sofa, that does not mean the body is well-supported. In your remote location, dedicate a workspace to help organize and create discipline in your day.
- Maintain a neutral posture– Your neck should align with the spine (not bent or forward), with your back relaxed and supported, shoulders relaxed (not hunched or rounded), elbows close to the body and bent at an angle between 90 and 120 degrees, keep the wrist and hands straight (not bent or turned).
- Find a desk– There is no problem with using your dining table or similar surface as your desk as long as you can position your computer screen in front of you so you don’t strain your neck.
- Pick a chair- The chair may be the most important part of your remote office, depending on how much time you spend sitting. Sit all the way back in your chair, make sure your back is straight and supported.
- Position your laptop correctly– If you are going to use your laptop for extended periods, consider using a laptop stand or place your laptop on a stable support surface, such as reams of papers, boxes, or books to achieve proper screen height (browser bar at your eye level). Also, you should consider adding an external keyboard and mouse. This will help prevent poor posture with either the arms or hands held too high or the neck and back bent down.
- Move around– Even if you have a perfect workstation, you shouldn’t sit all day. Instead, mix up your posture; Take mini-breaks (go for a short walk) during the day, add stretch exercises every hour. You can easily switch positions by sitting at the dining table and standing at your kitchen counter. This may help to keep you comfortable during the day.