It’s been estimated that up to half of the Australian workforce is now working from home due to the effects of COVID19. That means that unless you’re fortunate enough to have a home office setup with a full-size desk, desktop computer and comfortable chair, you’ve probably built a makeshift workstation out of the closest materials.
If that’s you, you could be at risk of developing aches and pains or worse.
Your neck might not notice responding to emails at the kitchen table or browsing Instagram on the couch every now and then, but full work days of hunching and slouching are going to catch up to the musculoskeletal system after a while.
How can I make my home office a safe and healthy place to work?
If you’re new to working from home due to COVID19, the good news is that you don’t need to go out and buy thousands of dollars of ergonomically designed knick knacks to save your body from developing chronic pain.
You can set up your workspace to be safe and comfortable with a few simple tips.
You don’t need to go out and buy an expensive office chair
Yes, some office chairs look really cool and will feel super comfortable, but you also need to think about how your feet sit on the floor, whether your wrists are bent when you type or use the mouse, and other factors. Most of these adjustments can be made using items from around the house or with inexpensive purchases from Amazon or Ebay.
Be conscious of your head and neck angle while working
Keeping your neck, shoulders, and back free from injury relies heavily on putting the least amount of strain on them. This means keeping your head directly vertical and neutral to your neck.
Impossible with that laptop sitting on the kitchen table or holding your Iphone low in front of you I’m afraid. To keep neck pain and upper back pain at bay, try mounting your laptop on something that props it up and consider using an external keyboard and mouse. If you have a PC, use some books if you have to raise it to a comfortable height at eye level, keeping your head and neck in that neutral position.
It’s a myth that you should be sitting at a 90 degree angle
Most musculoskeletal and sports physios have spent years trying to tell people that’s not how you should be sitting. Find a comfortable posture where you can see the screen while sitting back in a way that provides lower back support. You might find feels like sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, slightly leaning back.
If you don’t have a fancy pants office chair that reclines back, try placing a pillow, travel cushion or towel behind your lower back for lumbar and neck support.
Take frequent but short breaks
It takes time to get used to working from home and one of the biggest adjustments can be the work schedule. At home, it can be easier to get sucked into sitting in an uncomfortable position for hours on end only to wake up the next morning with a kinked neck.
We all need to take breaks and ensuring you get up and walk around and have a stretch every 30 minutes is a great way to keep your energy and productivity levels up while also looking after your body.
Building your ergonomic office can feel like putting together the pieces of a puzzle and plenty of people opt for buying expensive easy products over making a few small adjustments.
If you are unsure whether your workspace is right for you, contact a Fixio physio on (02) 8964 4086 or book an appointment online.