COVID-19 has caused a lot of changes in society and one of those is people are now working from home. We are away from our ergonomic designed desks at work and have moved to the ill equipped kitchen table or couch. This has left people with increased headaches and neck pain. However, there are many things you can do to help prevent these symptoms.
Location, Location , Location
The number one thing that you need to consider when setting up your work station at home is where you are going to work. It is important that you find a desk with a good chair that will provide support for your spine. It looks so inviting to curl up onto the couch, or even in bed, with your laptop. Poor postures in these locations will cause gradual strain on your muscles and joints and then pain in the long run.
Not everyone has a desk with an office chair at home so the next best thing is your kitchen table. Often the kitchen table is higher than the average desk and there will be more strain put on your shoulders, especially when using a lap top. Try to find a taller chair that will raise you up.
Setting up Your Work Station
Recognizing that there will be limitations to what you have at home, the following are some basic rules that you can follow when setting up your work station:
1. Have an adjustable chair so that you can move the height to have your thighs parallel with the floor, your feet flat on the floor, and your elbows supported
2. Use a foot stool if your feet don't touch the floor
3. Your desk height should be 28 to 30 inches tall so that your elbows are flexed at 90 degrees
4. If you are not using a lap top, your keyboard and mouse should be placed on the same level and so that your elbows are at 90 degrees
5. When using a desktop monitor your screen should be about an arms length away and the top of the screen should be level with your eyebrows
Get up and Move
A past blog post sited that sitting is the new smoking. It is proven that prolonged sitting is not good for our health. One of the advantages of working from home is you can get up anytime and get moving. It is recommended that you get up from sitting every 45 minutes and spend 5 minutes moving around. A lot of people are finding they are more productive working at home because they are not interrupted as much, they don't have to commute, and they can enjoy their lunch hour and breaks more. With this said, you actually have more opportunity and more time to get up from your work station when working at home. Some tips to help motivate you to get moving are:
1. Set a timer to remind you to get up
2. Make a schedule of activities that you can do on your breaks including, a short walk, basic stretches, yoga, and body weight exercises
3. Make a goal to get moving, write it down, and reward yourself for your efforts
4. Don't use your breaks for social media. This just keeps you sitting more!
Try Standing When Working
Standing work stations are becoming common place in the work force. These allow workers to get up from their desks and help fight the health risks of sitting. Research shows that they are beneficial but are not good if used all day. Standing in one spot for long periods can put excess stress on your knees and low back. It is recommended that you should stand 30 minutes to one hour for every 2 hours of sitting.
Most of us will be working at home with a lap top and this allows you to move to different locations including to a spot where you can stand.
Working from home has its challenges when you don't have a proper desk. Avoid the temptation to curl up on the couch with your laptop, set up a good work space, and keep moving during the day. These tips should help you avoid tension building up into your neck and shoulders.
Activity fact: You should wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds to help kill any viruses. Singing the alphabet song at a slow pace while washing should accomplish this.