Now, as the number of COVID cases begin to rise, you might be heading back, or should we say, staying at your home office. Millions of Americans have shifted to remote working to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Telecommuting has made us convert dining room tables and bedrooms into workspaces. But, these set-ups are less than ideal for many. Can you relate? If so, keep reading!
Not having a proper space set up can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injury. According to Jessica Kaplan, a physical therapist at Community Care Physical Therapy, "Low back pain, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) – a disorder that causes pain and weakness in the hand and wrist – are among the most common disorders caused by poor ergonomics." But what's the good news? There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing pain due to poor ergonomics. Follow these easy tips to improve your workspace at home.
Arrange Your Workstation or Standing Desk to Fit You
• Seated workstation chair adjustment: When sitting, hips and knees should be at 90–110 degrees with feet flat on the floor and knees slightly lower than hips. It would be best if you also used a lumbar roll to provide low back support. Make sure your head is centered over your neck and shoulders.
• Standing desk adjustment: Feet should rest on the floor or one foot on a stool with knees unlocked. Your shoulders should be relaxed with an elbow angle of 90-100 degrees. Again, make sure your head is centered over your neck and shoulders.
• Work tools: Monitor should be at eye level or slightly lower and centered with screen 18-30 inches away. The keyboard should be positioned so that your wrists are flat. Try to avoid "cradling" your phone between your head and shoulder. Instead, consider purchasing a headset.
Take Breaks. Try to get up and walk around every 30-45 minutes. Sitting for excessive amounts of time can be very harmful in any setting, especially when working from home without your usual office furniture.
Exercise and Stretch. If you can, take a 30-minute walk daily. Jessica recommends performing basic exercises like chin tucks, shoulder blade squeezes, and standing backbends, all of which are exercises that realign most postural deficiencies.
Throughout your workday, it's essential to listen to your body. If you start to develop some pain, try to identify it early to correct your positioning, and avoid it from worsening. If making these adjustments doesn't improve your pain, check in with your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist for additional guidance. Community Care Physical Therapy offers services in their Delmar and Latham locations.