Due to Covid-19 a lot of companies turned to the option of working from home for the employees in an attempt to minimize the risk of their employees contracting the virus. But this led the majority of employees to work with a sub-optimal office setup at home where a proper desk was swapped for a dinning or a coffee table (and sometimes even the thighs), a big screen with a tiny laptop, and an ergonomic chair for a dining chair or the sofa. All the above in combination with the increased hours that some of these employees had to work and the stress of uncertainty over the job security, resulted in an increase of neck, back and lower back pain cases.
Below are some tips that will help minimize the risk of developing neck, shoulder, back and or lower back pain when working from home:
- Don’t hunch over your laptop
Laptops were designed for use on the go for about 2-3 hours and not 8 hours a day. If you do not have a proper desk and an external screen (which is better and recommended), it is advisable to adjust a few things. The top of the screen has to be at eye level, the screen has to be an arm’s length away and the arms have to be by the side of the body and the elbows at 90 degrees when using the keyboard and the mouse. All the above are nearly impossible with the use of only the laptop. So an external keyboard and a mouse are absolutely necessary for the distance and the position of the hands and something to place the laptop onto so that we bring the screen at eye level.
- Use an ergonomic office chair (or make adjustments to the one you are using) and don’t let your feet dangle
If the chair you are using is too low you can use a pillow or a towel so that your hips and knees are at 90 degree angles. If the legs are dangling in the air, this can cause pain in the lower back, so you can place some books or a box under your feet so that they are in the 90/90 position as mentioned above.
- Establish a routine and take regular breaks for your eyes and your body
Try to take your eyes away from the screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object far for 20 seconds. Whenever you can, stand up and walk for example during a phone call. If you have a suitable space and furniture try to alternate working in standing and sitting. Program your breakfast, lunch break, dinner and your finish time so that you can meet with friends, do your hobbies, exercise and sleep properly which will help mentally and physically the body to recover and rejuvenate.
5 top tips to get the perfect home workstation
- Use a laptop stand to elevate/lift the screen
- Use an ergonomic office chair
- Take regular breaks to change positions regularly and rest the eyes
- Use an external mouse and keyboard
- Invest in a sit to stand desk to optimize health
By Physio: Ioannis Rellias