Since the coronavirus pandemic closed many offices in 2020, working from home has become standard for some. But unfortunately, ergonomics, the science of creating a safe, comfortable, and efficient work environment, is not always followed in off-site settings. So what should you do if your work-at-home setup causes neck or back pain?
Working from home has many advantages: There is no commute, and the dress code is relaxed. You can have bed tea while working or even have breakfast in a bad while working on your laptop. It sounds magnificent!
However, there are some disadvantages. Working from the bed or slumped on the sofa, rather than at a desk in an ergonomic chair, can result in back and neck pain. Numerous factors, including the following, may contribute to your home workstation being less than optimal for your health:
- Firmness and type of your chair and presence of lumbar support
- Height of your chair with your desk
- Position of your computer and monitors on your desk
- How often do you take breaks from sitting
These and other factors can lead to back and neck pain as you work from home.
It’s all about trying to adapt your environment as much as possible to support your body’s more natural and relaxed position
Here are tips from professionals to avoid neck, back and shoulder pain when working from home.
Tip 1: Feet firmly on the ground
Keep your feet flat on the floor and slightly ahead of your knees, which are bent at a 90- to 120-degree angle. Use a lumbar support cushion or grab a small throw pillow to alleviate back pain if one is not available.
Tip 2: Shoulders relaxed and natural
Shoulders are relaxed, upper arms usually fall at your sides, elbows are close to your body. The Head is generally in line with your body — not thrust forward — and the middle of your computer monitor is at eye level.
Tip 3: “Arm” yourself for success
Hands and forearms are parallel to the floor. The ideal keyboard position is slightly below the height of your elbows and sloped slightly away from you. This position allows your upper body to relax and keeps circulation cut off in your lower arms and hands.
Tip 4: Neck-free when talking
Use earbuds, a headset or a speakerphone so that you don’t have to tilt your Head and hold the phone between your neck and shoulder.
Tip 5: Keep moving
Even with the best posture, you can get aches and pains from sitting in one position for too long.
Set a timer to remind yourself to get up once an hour to:
- Stretch and walk around
- Bend over and touch your toes
- Do some jumping jacks
- Run in place
- Roll your shoulders slowly
- Do arm circles to get your blood flowing
These activities will benefit your physical health, mind, and ability to concentrate. Adjust the position of your lumbar support cushion if you’re using one. If possible, perform some of your work, such as phone calls, standing or even walking.
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