As many of us return to “a new normal,” that may or may not include returning to your desk at the office. Many of our patients have been working from home and expect to continue. Your home set-up may not be as ergonomic or comfortable as at the office. We’re here with advice and suggestions to help you optimize your home workstation.
Raise your screen
The most convenient way to use your laptop is just that–on your lap. Unfortunately, looking down while slouched on the couch isn’t the best way to sit. Try sitting at your kitchen table with your computer. If you need to read or have meetings, you can raise your laptop by setting it on a shoe box, yoga block, or stack of books. You should be looking for the top of the screen to be at your eyes or forehead and the screen an arm’s length away.
Try some accessories
A touch pad or laptop keyboard at a too-low or too-high position can wreak havoc on your arms and neck. You may need to use a wireless keyboard and mouse to make these angles more comfortable. Your wrists and forearms should make a slightly below horizontal line with your elbows at your sides.
Rest your feet
Your knees should be level or just below your hip-height when seated, make sure your feet rest on the floor squarely. If you’re at a stool or your chair is too high, you can use a box to raise your feet.
Sitting versus standing
Both positions can work well if you’re regularly switching between them. While standing, position the screen and keyboard to be at the same angles that you have when sitting. To get some height, try a counter top or books stacked on your table to raise the surface. If you anticipate a lot of standing, wear supportive shoes (save your bunny slippers for another time). If you’re sitting, use a chair with a good lumbar support or make one by rolling up a towel behind you.
This one is the most fun. At work, many of our meetings and tasks are broken up by walking around the office or the building. At home, we click from meeting to meeting uninterrupted, resulting in much more time in a less comfortable environment. Taking breaks, even “micro-breaks”, at least every 30 minutes can help alleviate this. Taking a few minutes every hour or more frequent shorter breaks can reduce discomfort. Ideally, if you’re working through a musculoskeletal problem, try to increase movement even more.
Not sure what kinds of exercises or stretches to do? Check out these stretches you can easily do at work. My favorite break from sitting is laying on a foam roll, or walking a lap outside around the clinic. If you have exercises you love to break up your work day, share them with us on Facebook!