Ergonomic Set Up:
When working from home there are a few things that we can go through to help set up your work station. This will ensure that you are as comfortable as you can be when conducting your work.
Let’s discuss what is mentioned in Figures 1 and 2:
Having back support is important as it allows you to sit in a comfortable upright position whilst allowing your back muscles to rest and not be continuously contracted/lengthened throughout the day – which can lead to fatigue, stiffness and soreness.
Having your feet touching the floor is optimal as it generates a driving force up through your feet to help support your body in an upright position. A handy little tip that I have found helps is to also use a block under your feet (place it at a 45 degree angle). This can prevent your head drifting into a forward head posture, which can lead to neck/shoulder blade muscle fatigue.
Having your shoulders and forearms at a 90 degree angle is ideal. This sets your wrists up to be in a neutral position, which can prevent forearm muscle fatigue/overuse (can lead to things such as tennis/golfer’s elbow).
Let’s Discuss Figure 3 and 4:
As seen in Figure 3, it’s important to arrange your desk work into a system where the items you use the most are both in front of you and within reach. This can prevent unnecessary straining and the potential to work in a suboptimal position. Having your line of site at approximately 10-15 degrees when looking down at your computer is optimal. This places the neck muscles in an ideal position to be in for a period of time without being too shortened or lengthened.
Sitting in an ergonomically sound position when working from home is of great benefit to prevent discomfort. However, postures in any position can cause discomfort if prolonged. Therefore, it is very important to have regular movement breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. This is for a number of reasons. The physical stress put on the muscles, especially the neck and back, can result in fatigue and thus discomfort. Sitting in the same position for too long can also reduce blood flow to various parts of the body, including the brain and can lead to a range of issues down the track.
There are both short (preventing stiffness and soreness) as well as longer term benefits (reduced risk of diseases such as dementia and other brain related conditions) associated with getting up from your desk (or even if you have a standing desk – switch between sitting and standing every now and then).
You may be thinking, well what does a movement break incorporate. Well, it can be as simple as going for a short walk to get a drink of water. However, if you’d like to gain extra benefit from your movement break to help prevent muscle aches and pains, it would be beneficial to conduct some form of strength/cardio exercise.
This can be as simple as doing 10 rows with a theraband tied against a door handle. Or, if you’d like a full list of what you could do in your movement breaks feel free to book a consultation online with one of our Target Physiotherapists who can steer you in the right direction with what are the most beneficial exercises you can be doing to suit you.
If you implement at least some of what is discussed above you will definitely be heading in the right direction to improve your health and also prevent the aches and pains associated with desk work.
Check out our Physiotherapist Cameron Bundy’s working from home playlist for a few tips & exercises to work more comfortably from home, or watch the Working From Home 101 Webinar below.