Many of us are working several days a week from home. But are our work spaces causing aches and pains? Whether you’re a staffer, faculty member or student, creating an ergonomically sound home office space is worth the effort.
Many of us have settled into a hybrid work routine, transforming a space in our home into a work space. Some people have spent significant time and energy on setting up a fully-outfitted home office while others are re-purposing the kitchen table. How can we preserve our backs and our posture?
Repetitive activities and general lack of mobility take a toll on the body. Working at a desk checks all those boxes. Small repetitive movements of the hand and arms, constant neck turning between multiple screens, and minimal motion through the trunk and legs all contribute to increased potential for aches, pains, and even injuries. However, you can set up your workstation to be ergonomically sound and improve your comfort.
Chair selection and positioning
- Choose a wheeled chair, preferably one with five wheels for ease of mobility.
- Adjust the height so that your hips and knees are both at about a 90-degree angle.
- Your feet should rest comfortably flat on the ground. If they can’t reach, use a footrest.
- Use lumbar support so that you can relax your shoulders and whole back against the chair.
Keyboard and mouse set-up
- Adjust the armrests of your chair so that your arms can hang straight down with your elbows resting lightly on the arm rests and your forearms parallel to the ground when your hands are placed on the keyboard.
- You should be able to slide your knees under the keyboard tray or desk. If not, adjust the armrests and/or seat height accordingly.
- Keep your mouse at the same level as your keyboard and as close to the keyboard as possible.
Monitor positioning and other considerations
- Place your monitor so that it is directly in front of you.
- The monitor should be at about eye level and at a distance where you can clearly see the screen without squinting or leaning forward or backward.
- If you need glasses for reading or have bifocals, you may need to invest in a separate pair for working at the computer to avoid tipping your head backwards to see through the bottom portion of the eye glasses.
It looks like the culture of hybrid work is here to stay, so if you feel stiffness in your neck or back after a few hour’s work at home, make the needed adjustments. You’ll be glad you did.
If you feel that you need additional guidance or individualized help with setting up your desk space, or have more specific concerns about posture, aches, and pains, reach out to Drexel Physical Therapy Services to make an appointment.