In this period of COVID-19, a great deal of businesses been forced to adapt to ensure the health of their workers. For many businesses this has involved setting up employees in home environments. Our physiotherapist Laura Scott provides her tips on working from home.
Whilst home may be a more relaxed environment, it is just as important to ensure your work set up is ergonomic to reduce the chances of developing work-related pain.
A recent study highlighted numerous risk factors for the development of musculoskeletal disorders associated with computer set-up including
- type of computer/technology (i.e. iPad, laptop, desktop)
- looking up at a screen
- prolonged static postures i.e. sitting or standing
The most common complaints associated with desk-based jobs include disorders, of the neck, shoulders or lower back. Furthermore, desk-based work can increase our risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist. If we sit for prolonged periods of time in a hunched position the muscles over the chest, such as our pecs, become tights whilst muscles on our back such as our trapezius become sore from being recruited in a poor ergonomic set-up.
How do I set up my office space at home?
Modification of ergonomic set-up has been shown to be the most effective intervention to reduce musculoskeletal disorder symptoms. When setting up your new workstation at home you should try and ensure the following:
- Have a back rest which supports the natural curves of your spine
- Chair height appropriate to ensure feet are flat and supported on floor
- Set up the monitor so that the top line of text on the screen is at resting eye level
- When utilising keyboard, have arms parallel to the floor with wrists in a neutral position
- If using a laptop for long periods of time, utilise a separate mouse/keyboard so that you can replicate to ensure the top line of text is at eye level
As well as modifying our work set up, implement a short rest break every 30 minutes to assist in optimising your health. This can be as simple as making a cup of coffee, having a quick snack or even standing whilst you make a phone call.
What exercises can I do to counteract sitting?
Stretching is another way to compensate for excessive desk-based work and poor ergonomic set up. Below are a few stretches that you could utilise to assist in relieving symptoms.
- Thread the needle
- Lumbar rolls
- Cervical Rotation
- Thoracic extension or lying on towel
Mobility and stretching based exercises are really good at relieving symptoms but even more importantly is the need to strengthening structures our back and neck. Below are some exercises which will be of benefit.
- Squat and rows
- Dead bugs
If you are working from home, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy. Our team has a wide range services including online consults to assist with setting up your home office.