Ergonomics and your home office

As a state, Western Australia is going pretty well in the fight against Covid-19. All the key measures of progress against the spread of this disease appear to be heading in the right direction and there is a general sense that we, as a communityare all playing our part in this.

One of the big moves against the disease that many corporations and their employees are making is to work from home. And while we fully support the virtues of flexible working arrangements, one thing that we’re noticing is a sharp increase in sore necks, low backs and headaches over the last month or so, so it seems like a relevant time to review how we can set up our work station at home.

Suboptimal work set ups can lead to musculoskeletal ailments, so we’ve put together six simple tips for you to implement to reduce the risk of neck-related headaches and spinal pain with the change in work environment that many of us are currently facing.

Get your seat height just right:

When it comes to seat height, aim to get your seat to a position at which your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This will allow your low back to maintain it’s usual slight curve, but also allow more freedom for it to move and subtly change positions. If your legs don’t reach the floor, a stool under the desk is a good option.

 

Back support:

If you’re bunkering down for a six, seven or eight hour day in front of the screen, good quality back support will mean that you’re not relying on every muscle in your back and neck to be working the whole time. Office chairs often come with a curve that mimics that of your spine. Depending on your personal preferences, we recommend that the back of your chair is tilted just past vertical – at about 100˚

Screen set up – how far is too far?

Once you’ve established your chair and desk height, we now turn our attention to the screen. The optimal distance from the screen will depend on your eye sight, but usually a good starting point is to be arms length away if your desk depth permits. You can always adjust from here. Monitor your eye fatigue throughout the day. If your eyes are feeling tired or heavy, this is often a sign that your distance might need some tweaking.

Screen height:

Your monitor/s should be set to a height that reduces the work your neck muscles need to do all day. Too high and you can irritate the joints in the back of your neck. Too low and the muscles will be working overtime and get fairly sore, fairly quickly. The current guidelines recommend that we have our eyeline about level with the top third of the screen and bottom of the screen no lower than our navel.

 

Optimise your keyboard:

Aim to have your keyboard flat or on a slight incline on your desk. It should sit 12-15cm in from the edge of the desk so that your hands and wrists can rest comfortably whilst working. This should ensure that your shoulders and traps aren’t working overtime to hold your arm up all day.

 

Posture vs movement

After decades of research, it seems evident that there is no one “perfect posture”. What we have learnt however, is that regularly changing position, moving and stretching can reduce end of day discomfort and stiffness, and also improve productivity. So every 30 minutes, if you have capacity to do it, we suggest getting up and moving around for a couple of minutes. Have a stretch, do some squats, have a drink of water then get back into it!

 

Best of luck getting through the remainder of Covid-19 in the best possible mental and physical health.

 

If you’ve found this article interesting, and you’re looking for more information on ergonomics and how you can set up your home or work office, then please email us at info@subiaco-physiotherapy.com.au with an email headed ERGONOMICS and we will send you out a FREE e-book with more useful and practical tips, including diagrams, on work station set up.