Home offices: what a pain in the #$!&*@!
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
During this period of working from home, proper computer and home-office ergonomics is crucial to prevent poor posture and avoid many things including musculoskeletal, visual and related disorders. Poor work ergonomics are associated with a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders. Proper ergonomics not only help prevent or reduce pain but also provide secondary benefits such as less time off work, improved productivity and improved visual outcomes.
What can you do?
Improve your posture and workplace design
Reduce low back tension by sitting upright with 90 degrees at hips and knees in a chair that supports your lower back, with arm rests and feet supported by the floor or on a footrest.
Avoid undue stress on the wrist, by keeping the wrists neutral. Wrists should not be extended up or flexed down with elbows at 90 degrees and relaxed shoulders.
Alleviate neck strain by keeping your head upright and over your shoulders with your eyes looking straight or slightly downward without bending your neck.
Take frequent breaks
Get up and walk around every 30- 45 minutes, grab a drink, do some stretches, go for a walk, exercise, grab a bite etc. Prolonged fixed postures can lead to stiffness and pain. These “microbreaks” can be as little as 30 seconds long to as long as 5 minutes and can prevent injury and reduce muscle fatigue.
Change your position frequently at your workstation:
Remember, there is no single correct working posture that fits everybody. The best posture is one that changes frequently! For sit-stand desks, try moving between sitting and standing about every 20-30 minutes. Adjustable table, stand and work for a bit, sit, cross your legs, use a stool under your feet, change your task, stand while talking on phone (ie talking on phone, typing, reading etc.). The best posture for you is one that changes frequently! Listen to your body as you may find that more or less time setting or standing works for you. Also, it is important to remember that fatigue can creep up on you, affecting your body and eyes. Move early and often, prior to you feeling fatigue.
How we can help
We can assess your workstation (in-person or virtually) and perform a physical examination to determine what interventions should be applied. We will assess the chair, monitor, phone and keyboard/mouse setup that may impart on your working posture. After ergonomic modifications have been given and any muscle/joint pain has been treated, the last part of the intervention will include some stretches and exercises specific to you that you can use during your microbreaks or outside your workday to encourage proper posture and reduce the risk of injuries and fatigue. A followup apopintment can also be setup to reassess your workstation and see if they have addressed your issues. If not, we can adjust your modifications and followup again. Dr. Myrtos will also determine if there are any new complaints that may have arisen or if more hands-on care is necessary.