Working remotely is great. Cutting out demanding commutes and keeping those pajamas on are reason enough to make the switch.
A study by IWG, a Switzerland-based service office provider found that 70% of professionals work remotely at least once a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half of the week. With this growing trend, it’s essential to prepare a comfortable work environment. Otherwise, your productivity may decline once back problems creep in.
Here are six ergonomic tips that can help you work comfortably and productively at home. These tips can help you avoid back problems.
1. Sit less, move more
Even with an ergonomic home office setup, don’t sit on your chair all day. Instead, vary your posture throughout the day, because sitting in the chair or the same position for extended periods can lead to back, neck, and even shoulder pain. Thus, it’s essential to change your posture, stretch, and adjust your chair when needed.
With an active chair, such as the ErgoStool, you can switch between sitting and standing throughout the day.
By adding an adjustable standing desk to your home office setup, you can change positions regularly. Also, you can use an anti-fatigue mat, which will motivate you to move your legs. These additions can stretch your calves, massage your feet, and ease fatigue throughout the day.
2. Put a pillow on your chair
If you don’t have an ergonomic chair, placing a thin pillow on your seat can make an ordinary chair a lot more comfortable. Also, you can fold up a fluffy towel for the same effect.
If you struggle with lower back pain, adding a lumbar support pillow or a rolled towel on your seat can make you more comfortable by enforcing a healthy posture and maintaining healthy spine alignment. That’s because lumbar support pillows that rest on the back of your pelvis can help relieve discomfort from sitting for extended periods. You need not buy a fancy pillow to achieve this effect. Just roll a towel and place it between your chair and lower back.
3. Keep your chin up
Your neck and head posture are crucial as well. Because tucking your chin toward your chest can lead to neck, shoulder, and even back pain. So, you should keep your body relaxed.
To keep your chin up, elevate your laptop. Laptops are never ergonomically good because the monitor will either be too low or the keyboard will be too high. Preferably, the top of the monitor should be below eye level, so you don’t strain your neck when reading. Thus, when working on reading-intensive tasks, it’s essential to prop your laptop up, so it’s at eye-level.
By using a monitor stand or a monitor arm, you can raise your laptop to a height similar to your monitor, which prevents eyestrain and neck pain by keeping your chin up.
4. Rest your eyes
According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work report, 99% of the responders said they would like to work remotely, at least sometimes, for the rest of their careers. However, if you’re planning on working remotely, you’ll need an ergonomic workstation to avoid future back problems.
Take a break and look away from the screen every 30 seconds. When working from home “we tend to be focused,” so you might forget to take breaks. Instead, set a timer to remind you to take a break from your screen.
To avoid eyestrain, make sure your home office is lit well. Ample natural lighting is also crucial and sitting in front of a window can help keep your eyes rested. However, the glare of the sun isn’t good for your eyes, so find a suitable location where you can benefit from natural light.
5. Support your feet
Stretching your legs, or supporting your feet on an elevated surface increases blood circulation.
Preferably, your hips and thighs should form 90-degrees angles when you sit in a chair. Also, it’s essential to move your feet back and forth for exercise. But if you have a chair that reclines, this’ll provide the necessary support for your legs, too.
Don’t let your feet dangle. Keep your feet flat on the ground. And if they don’t reach the ground firmly when you’re sitting, place a stack of books or boxes underneath, so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This’ll ease the stress on your lumbar spine.
6. Keep your arms and elbows at 90 degrees
Always sit close to your keyboard and mouse, because stretching too far can hurt your muscles. Ideally, when seated with your chair correctly adjusted; your arms should be bent to 90 degrees and you should set the desk to the height of your forearms.
If you’re using the armrests to support your arms, you can use keyboard/mouse trays, too. This way your elbows will still be at 90 degrees, but they’ll be resting on the chair instead of the desk. The same principle applies to a standing desk. Therefore, the elbow height determines the height of the desk, because elbows should bend at 90 degrees.
However, if you’re unable to adjust the height of your desk this, then either:
- Your desk is too low as you’re tall and can’t get your chair or legs under it. You can correct this by either raising your desk using a desk riser or you can lower the height of your chair. However, lowering the height of your chair isn’t the preferred option because it can lead to elevate knee to hip height and posterior pelvic tilt, which ultimately can lead to knee pain. Try to stand regularly if you’re forced to adopt this posture.
- Your desk is too high and your elbows are too high, raising your shoulders. Raise the height of your chair until your elbows are 90 degrees. This isn’t ideal because it may leave your feet dangling, but you can use a footstool.
You must set up your chair and the height of your desk correctly, to maintain a healthy posture. Also, supporting your arms is essential for your neck and shoulders, so avoid sitting at a curve in your desk as much as possible.
With these six ergonomic tips, you can update your home office setup and work comfortably and productively. Also, updating your home office can help you prevent back problems and stay healthy.
And don’t forget to stay hydrated and take regular breaks. Stand up and move around regularly and do some stretches between your work.
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