Many of us have not worked at home for extended periods of time but in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic for some of us, this may be our new normal for the foreseeable future. Given how many hours most of us spend at our workplace it is worthwhile looking at how our workstations are set up.
We know that poorly set up workstations put undue pressure on your body and contribute to neck and lower back, headaches and even repetitive strain injury. This is particularly relevant now that many of us will be working from home with the Coronavirus pandemic.
The problem occurs when you sit for hours in sustained postures that put undue strain on muscles and ligaments. The secret is to adopt different postures frequently, and when you are sitting for periods of time assume positions that are less likely to cause damage.
When talking about workplace ergonomics we are looking at principles and not hard fast rules. A key element of this is how friendly and accommodating our workstation is for our body. Often a few minor ergonomic adjustments can ease the strain on our body significantly and reduce our chance of aches and pains.
Here are a few tips that can make a big difference:
• Back rest to shoulder height supporting the whole spine at approx. 10-20 degree reclined from vertical
• Top screen at eye level and approx. arm’s length distance away
• Knees at right angles or slightly lower
• Feet well supported. Footrests are an option when the desk is too tall and cannot be adjusted. If you don’t have one of these at home, you may be able to improvise with a box or an aerobic stepper
• Small gap of approx. 2 finger widths between the back of the knee and front of the seat base
• Keep the mouse within close reach
• Forearms horizontal and shoulders relaxed
Other things to consider:
• It is important to take regular breaks from working at a computer – stand up and walk around and stretch at least 5 minutes every hour as a minimum – preferably every 30 minutes
• Standing workstations are great because they encourage different postures. If possible, vary between standing and sitting regularly – 30 minutes sitting /30 minutes standing
• And lastly – the best posture is the next posture – so keep shifting position
Look after yourself, Deb