The COVID-19 pandemic has forced an evolution in our workplace for the majority of desk workers, pushing them to create a comfortable and motivating environment to get work done at home. Unfortunately, most people are stuck working at the dining room or kitchen table. This does not bode well for someone who experiences neck and back pain from time to time. If you’re an office worker that has now been working at home, what’s your solution? Some people have their own office space set up already, but others are doing this for the first time. If you are of the latter group, this post is for you.
Here are some ways that you can fix your at home work station:
Ensure that your feet can rest comfortably on the floor
If your feet aren’t able to rest flat on the floor while keeping your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees, you should elevate them by using a prop such as a footstool, a stack of textbooks or a large tupperware container. If you’re a taller person and you don’t have a chair that is tall enough, you will have to put something on the seat to boost you up. For example, a cushion or a couple of pillows. This is called the 90-90 rule.
Support your back and ensure the seat is not too long for your legs
Often, seats of a chair can be too deep, especially for a smaller person. This would require you to place a support between your back and the back of the seat. This will act as a space filler to help prevent a slouched posture. This is especially important for someone with a history of low back pain.
Raise or tilt the screen to accommodate your eye and head level
Aside from nearsightedness and the need for an updated lens prescription, screen position is critical in maintaining a healthy neck posture. When a worker has to use multiple screens or the screens are too far away, this may cause the person to maintain a rotation or extension in their neck that leads to increased muscle tension and shearing forces on the spine. If you are using a laptop you can prop it up on an incline using a book and tilt the screen back slightly so that you will not need to look down or move your head. Then you will be able to use your eyes to adjust your gaze.
Keep your wrists in a neutral position
If you are working on a keyboard, make sure to assess what angle you are holding your wrists while typing and keying. A neutral wrist is not bent up or down to reach the correct keys. You may need to adjust your keyboard height to accommodate a better wrist posture. If you are using a mouse for the cursor, then you should also follow this rule. To maintain a neutral wrist while using the mouse, you should keep the mouse at the same level as the keyboard. Make sure to make room for the mouse. We have seen many patients with hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck issues due to poor mouse mechanics.
If you are a remote worker now due to the social distancing lock down and are having any concerns with your body, in particular your neck, arm, and low back, take some time to adjust your workstation by implementing these four strategies. If this does not work or you are having some trouble, please contact us to book a virtual appointment where we can fully visualize you in your space and make specific recommendations to your needs. Unsure of what a virtual appointment entails? Checkout our video below to learn more or read about it in our blog.
Have a happy quarantine, and stay safe.