Millions of Americans are now affected by the COVID-9 pandemic and are forced to shelter in place and work from home.
Many find that working from home is a better working environment because they feel more relaxed, you can cook your own lunch,
But they soon discover that it may be a big pain in the butt, specifically for the neck or back.
Spending 8+ hours hunched over your laptop at your kitchen table or sitting on your couch, you soon realize that your workstation may not be an ideal setup or even resemble your set up at the office. And with a bad office setup it can result in the common condition called “tech neck”.
This is why having an ergonomic workstation will help you avoid conditions such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or lower back pain. Plus it can help boost productivity and unwanted stress on your body.
According to physical therapist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association, Eric Robetson, “Many people don’t have proper office chairs, and working for extended periods of time at your kitchen counter or hunched over a coffee table is not great for your body and overall health.”
What happens when you sit at a desk table all day not ergonomically designed?
Great question. Many people tend to hunch over or slouch in front of a computer screen. And with poor posture, it often results in strain and stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic, poor posture can affect your health in a variety of ways, causing headaches, back, neck, hip, knee, and even foot pain.
Here are __ ergonomic tips for working from home to create a more healthy, productive, and comfortable environment.
#1 - Elevate Your Computer Screen or Laptop to the Correct Height
Laptops are not known to be ergonomically friendly. They are designed to either force users to have poor neck or head posture or poor hand or wrist posture.
And why are laptops not very ergonomic? Well when the screen is at the right height to promote good neck/head posture, your keyboard is usually too high which results in poor hand/wrist posture.
On the other hand, when the keyboard is at the right height, to promote good hand/wrist posture, it results in having bad neck or head posture.
#2 - Invest in a Laptop Stand
A laptop stand will help you avoid hunching over your laptop or tilting your head downward to your screen. The laptop stand is designed to lift your laptop screen from your desk closer to eye level so that it’s more comfortable for your neck.
You can choose a stand that’s fixed like one of our favorites, Rain Design mStand, designed to give you better ergonomics by raising your laptop to eye level.
Or if you choose to adjust your height and are looking for a sturdy design, we recommend the Executive Office Solutions Portable Laptop. It’s lightweight and easy to carry around.
#3 - Use a Pillow or Lumbar Support in Your Chair
Sitting at home in a chair with little to no back support can wreck havoc on your back. Often times leading to poor posture which results in stress on the joints of your spine.
Our lower spine is designed to naturally curve inward towards our stomach. A good lumbar back support will the fill the gap between the inward curve of your spine and the back of the chair, thereby providing adequate support needed to support the spine.
Without added lumbar support, it makes it difficult to make a conscious effort to maintain good posture while sitting at your desk for long periods of time.
We recommend using a mesh back support such as the Easy Posture Mesh Support which will allow you to rest your spine on firm support while preventing your back from sweating.
You can also use a lumbar support cushion, often made of memory foam material. Just make sure it is ergonomically designed, (like the LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Cushion), to avoid pushing your back too far out from your chair.
#4 - Prop Your Feet on a Good Footrest
A good footrest can make working an 8+ hour shift at your desk all the difference. Without it, you may find that your feet dangle for hours or your feet are not properly supported or positioned well resulting in poor blood circulation and leg cramps.
A good footrest will give you proper support by alleviating your feet to a comfortable height, thereby preventing your hips from tightening up. It also helps to relieve pressure in your back, knees, feet, and legs.
A footrest cushion like the Office Ottoman will allow your feet to stay active and promote circulation when used as a rocking device. Turn over the cushion and place your feet on the flat side, and now you can rock back and forth.
#5 - Stay Active - Take Breaks and Move Around
Sitting in the same position can lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain. Break your routine by standing up and stretching every 30-40 minutes. And if you need a reminder, set a timer to go off at the desired time.
On your lunch break, take a brisk 30 minute walk around your house or living space. That will get your blood pumping and increase your heart rate often resulting in you feeling less stressed.
Sometimes changing your work environment from one room to the next can feel refreshing.
#6 - Use an Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse Set Up
Ideally, the desktop should be elbow height with your keyboard positioned to allow your elbows to be at least 90 degrees. Desktops that are either too high or too low can cause you to hunch over or stretch your arms to an uncomfortable position over time.
According to Dr. Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of spine surgery at UCLA School of Medicine, “If you have your keyboard too high and you have to shrug your shoulders, that will tire the muscles out, and it cause back pain. They won’t be ready for stress throughout the deay to protect the spine because they’ve been tired out through that constant contraction.”
So what makes a keyboard ergonomic?
An ergonomic keyboard is designed to reduce the risk of injury while tapping on your keyboard for hours, boost productivity, and reduce fatigue. Most of all, it should improve comfort while typing.
The most common type of injuries related to keyboard use is carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition, also called median nerve compression, can cause numbness and tingling, or weakness in your hand.
Repetitive motions of unnatural movements, like typing, can cause damage over time if gone unchecked.
If you’re ready to replace your existing keyboard, we recommend investing in the Logitech Ergo K860 Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard. With its modern design, you will type more naturally with a curved split key frame.
#7 - Other Ergonomic Equipment for Home Office
Standing Desk or Adjustable Height Computer Stand
There are many types of standing desks to choose from. But their overall function is the same - to help you break the cycle of sitting down for hours to standing up while working.
The VIVO desk riser allows standing throughout your day to relieve muscle tension, stress, and increase productivity.
This particular model provides the option of having a single or dual monitor setup along with a keyboard tray for a comfortable workstation.
This setup will help to significantly change your posture and help reduce back pain.