As many of us will now be working from home in less than optimal conditions, I am going to share with you how to set up your workspace ergonomically to avoid unwanted aches and pains.
My top tips to create the best set up when working from home:
1. Always work at a desk – Avoid the temptation to sit on your sofa or bed whilst working. This can lead to many aches and pains in the long run.
2. Find the right chair – your hips should be slightly higher than your knees and your feet flat on the floor. If needed sit on a cushion to raise your hips. If your chair doesn’t have a lumbar support place a cushion in the curve of the lower back. Try to avoid crossing your legs. This will keep your spine in a stable, neutral position, preventing you from slouching forwards and placing excess pressure on your spinal discs.
3. Adjust the screen height and position – the top 1/3 of your screen should be positioned at eye level. The screen should be directly in front of you, at about an arm’s length away. If using a laptop place it on a pile of books to raise the screen. This will help prevent you from slouching forward causing excess strain in the neck, upper back and shoulders.
4. Adjust the keyboard – bring the keyboard towards you so that you can sit back with your upper arms hanging vertically by your sides and your elbows bent at 90°. Avoid reaching your arms too far forward. For laptop users, if possible connect and place an external keyboard on the table so that you can raise the laptop on top of some books whilst comfortably typing.
5. Keep your wrist position neutral – avoid bending the wrists upwards or downwards to type. A folded towel just in front of the keyboard will provide some support to the wrists whilst typing.
6. Alternate between your left and right hand when using the mouse. This will reduce the chance of any repetitive strain injuries.
7. Re-arrange your worktop – place items (phone, books, paper) within easy reach of your seat so you are not straining to reach frequently used objects. Place the printer at a distance so you are regularly moving throughout the day!
8. Move frequently – stand up and stretch! There are many stretches you can perform at your desk (more on this to follow). Set a timer every 30 minutes as a reminder to stand up, walk around, stretch the shoulders, neck and back. If possible walk around whilst taking phone calls too.