Working from home? By now your back, shoulders are probably feeling the effects of those long hours sitting hunched over your laptop at the kitchen table. Working in an unsupported set up will eventually take its toll on your body and understanding the importance of setting up your home workspace is key to overcoming these issues for a healthier & more productive home working experience.
In this article, our Chiropractor Guthrie Steer outlines 11 ergonomic tips for setting up your home workspace to avoid stress, strain & inevitably injury to the back, neck, wrist & eyes.
1 – Adjust the chair or seat height so that your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor with the feet resting flat on the floor or on a footrest should you need one. The seat base should not compress the back of the thighs.
2 – Both your lower back and mid-back should be well supported. Use towels or pillows to create this support.
3 – Ensure that the keyboard is at elbow height for a sitting or standing workstation.
4 – Ensure forearms are approximately parallel to the floor.
5 – Ensure wrists are straight and the hands are in line with the forearms.
6 – Keep elbows close to the sides – Avoid leaning on one elbow either on the table of the armrest. Keep the spine in a neutral posture.
7 – Ensure your monitor is placed 50 – 100 cm (about an arm’s length) away from the eyes. The monitor distance should be about 50cm when using a small screen or a laptop screen and further away as the screen size gets larger.
8 – Reduce eyestrain, take short breaks and follow the 20-20-20 rule. i.e. take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking at things at least 20 feet away.
9 – Incorporate stretch breaks so that you change posture throughout the day. Again, use the 20-20 rule and move for 20 secs every 20 mins, place the printer in another room so you have to get up to retrieve that document.
10 – Position frequently used materials and equipment close to the front of the body to avoid twisting and reaching but don’t compromise your keyboard position.
11 – Consider your lighting – use task lighting for reading documents – adjust the brightness of your screen accordingly – limit as much glare on your screen as possible. Don’t have a bright window behind your screen, this will cause your eyes to fatigue.
A simple way to remember the best set up for your workspace is by following our N.E.W guide. Put together by our Chiropractic team, this anagram guides your through setting up your working space correctly, ensuring your spine is neutral, your keyboard & mouse are correctly positioned to take the strain away from your eyes, wrist & elbow and your work area is clear & organised.
N is for Neutral Posture:
A neutral seated posture should include sitting with the neck straight, shoulders straight down loosely at the sides, elbows at a right angle, wrists straight, low back supported on the backrest of the chair, 90o at the hips, 90o at the knees, and feet flat on the floor or on a footrest should you need one.
E is for Eye and Elbow Height:
Whether seated or standing – ensure that the keyboard and mouse are positioned at the elbow level. The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye height depending on the size of your screen – if using a laptop get yourself a separate keyboard and mouse a place the laptop on a box or books to gain the correct height.
W is for Work Area:
Keep items that are used often in the primary work zone. Keep items that are used less often in the secondary work zone (area within the outstretched arms).
When working at your computer your keyboard and mouse should be in the primary work zone, centred with yourself and the monitor.
For further guidance or if you are struggling with back, neck & wrist pain talk to our Chiropractic team at Nordic Balance Abbeville Road. We also now offer Remote Homeworking Desk Assessments & ergonomic solutions. Our Chiropractors will work with you remotely to ensure that your homeworking environment & desk set up is compliant with DSE certification & HSE regulations.
Check out our related articles in the home working series: 5 Desk Stretches to Ease Aches & Pains and How to Set Up Your Home Workspace with Our NEW Guide to Avoid Stress & Strain.
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