2020 has demanded flexibility. Life adjustments abound, but the workplace moving into the home might just be the most dramatic of them all. Perhaps you’ve commandeered a corner of the dining room table, a spare bedroom has found a new role, or maybe you just video call from the bed. Whatever your situation, everyone has had to manage space in new ways.
The perils of poor ergonomics at the office are well known, but without a standardized set up it can be a challenge to know how to avert those issues at home. Fortunately, no matter what your current workstation looks like, there are a few simple tricks to help optimize your form.
The monitor. The top edge of the monitor should be at eye level, an arms distance away from your body. If you use dual monitors, make sure your primary screen is directly in front of you to avoid unnecessary neck strain. Use both screens equally? They should meet directly at your midline. Make sure your set up allows you to keep your head directly over your shoulders and avoid slumping forward.
The keyboard. Relax your shoulders, drop your arms by your sides, and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. This is the proper level for your keyboard and work surface. Whatever keyboard you use, make sure to avoid repeatedly lifting your hands or bending your wrists from side to side.
The chair. Just think 90 degrees. Elbows, hips, and knees should all be supported at this angle. Envision a tall spine and scoot all the way to the chairback, allowing it to support you (a small pillow can provide some extra care for the low back). Arm rests are helpful to hold the elbows in this position. Don’t forget about your feet, they should be flat on the floor. A small box can assist if your legs are a little shorter.
The person. Even the best workstation layout isn’t flawless, and sitting all day isn’t ideal. Incorporate movement breaks whenever possible. Try setting a timer to remind you to stand up every 30 minutes. Make sure to move your neck, shoulders, wrists, and hips and focus your eyes on something other than a screen. Any type of movement will allow your eyes, mind, and body to reset and recharge.
The at-home office may not be forever, but there is no time like the present to make sure your set up is best serving your work and your body. If you are needing assistance to set up your home office, contact Live Your Life’s Physical Therapists.
A performer and bodyworker, I am delighted my unconventional path has led me to Physical Therapy. Through my work as a performance-based educator I helped devise trainings on everything from environmental preservation to English literacy. The physical nature of the job eventually led me to train in massage and pilates which uncovered a desire to learn more about the body. Before I knew it I was back in school in the University of Minnesota’s DPT program. I look forward to uniting my background in writing, public speaking,and education with my passion for PT, in and beyond the clinical setting. Interested in connecting? You can find me on linkedin.
1Attaran, Mohsen, and Brian D. Wargo. “Succeeding with ergonomics in computerized offices.” Work Study (1999).
2Bloswick, D., Budnick, P., Orr, G., Shortall, S., Spencer, J., & Webb, J. (n.d.). Computer Workstations eTool. United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/components.html
3Rempel, David M., Peter J. Keir, and Joel M. Bach. “Effect of wrist posture on carpal tunnel pressure while typing.” Journal of orthopaedic research 26.9 (2008): 1269-1273.