Home Workplace Ergonomics

Home Workplace Ergonomics

Home Workplace Ergonomics
Home Workplace Ergonomics is a well-known concept amongst chiropractors. You would think that office working individuals would have some knowledge about home workplace ergonomics. But this is not the case. In most cases, they only start to learn about workplace ergonomics when they experience back pain. At this point, they have already developed a repetitive stress injury.
 
Now that more office workers are working from home. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant national lockdowns worldwide. It is of great importance that office working individuals practice good workplace ergonomics. The reason being that office working individuals are used to working for long periods at their desks, in the seated position without taking frequent breaks.
 
Workplace offices are usually equipped with moderate to good office furniture. This is usually not the case for when we bring work back home. If you do not have a dedicated office or study room at home, then the odds are that you do not practice good home workplace ergonomics.
 
In chiropractic practice, we have started to notice an increasing trend of patients presenting with overuse syndromes or repetitive stress injuries. These are related to prolonged periods of maintaining the wrong working posture/s. This is due to individuals doing office computer work while in bed, on the couch, at the kitchen counter, and at the dining room table. Thus, these are all bad working ergonomics, as they will cause pain in the neck, shoulder, upper and lower back.

Some advice when setting up your home workstation

The most important thing to consider when you start working from home is to make sure that you invest in proper workstation furniture such as a chair, desk, laptop stand, etc. This will improve your home workplace ergonomics.

Chair

Choose a comfortable chair for your body that support your spine. Your chair should be adjustable with regards to seating and armrest height. It should be high enough so that your feet are flat on the floor. Ensuring your thighs are parallel to the ground, with your knees at 90°. The armrests should be high enough so that your shoulders are relaxed when you rest your elbows on them.

Lumbar Support.

Make sure that your chair is designed for lumbar support. This will prevent you from slouching and straighten your upper back. If your chair does not have this feature then invest in a lumbar support tool to strap onto your existing chair.

Choose a spacious desk that has enough legroom, counter space and height.

Do not choose a desk that’s too big as you want to place all your key items on your desk within your reach. Make sure that your desk also has enough drawer space for storage. It’s not advisable to store things underneath your desk as this may encroach on your legroom.

You must invest in a screen that is adjustable if you use a desktop computer.

If you use a laptop, then invest a height-adjustable laptop stand. Your screen should be placed high enough so that the top is at eye level. If you wear bifocal glasses, then place the screen a bit lower than eye level. Make sure to place your screen an arm’s length away from your body directly in front of you.

Keyboard and mouse.

If you use a laptop, try investing in a separate Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to place within easy reach. Your keyboard should be placed in front of you on the same surface that you’ve placed your mouse. When using your keyboard and mouse, keep your arms close to your body and your wrists straight. Make sure that the level of your wrists is at the same level or a bit lower than your forearms. Try adjusting your mouse sensitivity for slight movements whilst operating the mouse. 

In my opinion, this is  not necessary if you’ve invested in an office chair and desk that is height adjustable. But, in the case that your feet still do not rest flat on the floor then a footrest is warranted.

Key Items.

Make sure to always keep your key desk items like telephone and stationary close. When using a telephone, try to use it on speaker or with headphones. DO NOT use your phone by placing it between your ear and shoulder so that you can type or write at the same time.

correct sitting posture

Advantages of using a proper workstation

  1. Improve your posture. Sitting in an upright position with your bum placed in the corner of the chair. Your back resting against the backrest of the chair (with lumbar support). It will help strengthen your upper back postural muscles.

  2. Decrease neck, shoulder, upper back and low back pain. Your non-postural muscles will be more relaxed resulting in less tension.

  3. Decrease wrist pain. With your elbows placed beside your body resting on your chair’s armrests at 90°. Your wrists in-turn remain in a neutral/relaxed position which decreases wrist pain.

  4. Decrease headaches. Specifically, Cervicogenic headaches caused by strain in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Eye strain is also reduced as the scream would be placed an arms lengths distance away from your body.

  5. Increase productivity. If you spend less time thinking about back pain, then you can spend more time thinking about your work. If you spend more time thinking about your work then your productivity will increase.

  6. Save you some money. Initially, investing in a home workstation may be costly. Yet, in doing so you will be investing in your own health. This will result in fewer chiropractors’ and other physical healthcare practitioners’ visits. Thus, in the long run, you will be spending less.

stretch

Things to keep in mind

  • Always make sure to take frequent breaks from sitting…MOVE! Every 30 minutes for about 5-10 minutes, or a maximum of every 1 hour for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Stretch your neck, shoulders, upper back, and lower back muscles during your breaks.
  • NOTHING beats EXERCISE! Try doing exercises such as yoga or pilates. Breathing and meditation exercises. Planks (normal and side planks) and other core strengthening exercises.
  • There are also standing workstations.

If you suffer from pain due to bad Home Workplace Ergonomics, make an appointment to see your chiropractor.

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