By our very own Luke Hogle.
Working from home? Here are five tips to keep your body healthy and pain-free.
In the months since COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic, people have found themselves transitioning from commuting to work to suddenly working from home. While home-based work has its advantages, many do not have a home office setup that is as comfortable or as ergonomic as they are used to. Spending prolonged hours in positions that are sub-optimal can cause all kinds of stress on the body that can eventually lead to pain. Here are five recommendations to make your experience working from home as comfortable and sustainable as possible.
1. Use an office chair and desk
Working from the couch may seem tempting, but an office chair and desk will put your body in the best position to be able to work day after day without pain. Even better, a sit to stand desk allows you to change positions regularly and can reduce tension associated with prolonged sitting. Check with your office to see if there is a budget to help out with home office furniture or see if you can bring your office furniture home.
2. Ditch the laptop whenever possible
This goes along with #1. Having a separate keyboard and monitor allows you to achieve a more ergonomic position. Ideally, when working on a computer, your shoulders will be relaxed with elbows at sides. Elbows will be bent around 90 degrees (forearms parallel to the floor) and you will not be reaching outward. Your hands should contact the keyboard without having to move your elbows or shoulders forward. Your monitor should be about arms distance in front of your face and your eyes should be level with the top third of the monitor. Having proper keyboard and monitor placement is essential to maintaining comfort during long days of computer work.
3. Take stretch breaks
Something that is often overlooked is the importance of regularly moving. Our bodies were not designed to spend long periods of time sitting and not moving. Other than when we are sleeping, we should be moving regularly. Try to stand up and move around at minimum for several minutes every hour and make sure that you take some time at lunch to get up for longer to move your body.
4. Go hands-free if using a phone
If you are using a phone, whether for video calls or audio calls, use something to allow for hands-free use. Use a headset or speakerphone for audio calls and for video calls put the phone down so you can relax your arms and shoulders.
5. Get some exercise every day
Without needing to commute to work, many people find that they are not walking or moving as much as they were before. It’s less convenient to stop by the gym after work or go on a walk with coworkers during lunch if you never leave the house. Make an effort to set aside time every day to do some sort of exercise, whether it is walking around the neighborhood or doing yoga in the living room, you should try to spend 20-30 minutes or more every day getting your heart rate up and get some physical activity.