Working from home is fantastic! Right up until your puppy starts barking for attention or your neighbour, who you can only assume is building a fort and starts cranking up all sorts of power tools next door. COVID-19 has caused remote work from home to become a necessity instead of a luxury for many people.
Your workstation at home might consist of leaning at your kitchen bench with a laptop, sitting on your couch in front of your coffee table, or lying in bed with your laptop. All these seem easy and comfortable for the time being. But working from home due to lockdowns may stir up unwanted aches and pains. Chances are, you're spending more time in front of a screen which negatively affects your posture.
In reality, you may not have access to the best ergonomic equipment, but it is still vital to consider home workstation ergonomics to help with posture and prevent injuries.
What are the effects of poor posture?
Poor posture may lead to spinal degeneration over time:
Your body is designed to move. When you sit, the load through the lower back is higher. Sitting for 8-10 hours a day will increase the risk of weakened back muscles.
Risk of injuries like neck or back pain:
Musculoskeletal injuries a very prevalent
With technological advances and the digital world, more people have seated jobs that require minimal physical activity.
Poor ergonomics leading to poor posture; the head positions more forward, the shoulders roll forward, and the chest closes in. All these things make it difficult to breathe as the ribs cannot move properly.
Here is what can YOU do to improve your ergonomics at home:
Set up a workstation to help maintain a good posture - start with an office chair, allowing your feet to rest flat on the floor with the hips and knees at 90 degrees.
An external monitor is ideal, generally placed about an arm's length away with the top of the monitor at your eyebrow level. Using a book to elevate the monitor will help
If you can't use a separate monitor, you may use a different keyboard or mouse. If using an external mouse, maintain a neutral or straight wrist posture.
Elbows should be at 90 degrees, to the extent possible, avoid resting the forearms and wrists on unpadded cornered edges of the table.
By paying attention to your workstation setup, it can help prevent musculoskeletal injuries.
And finally, take a break. It is best to take leaves of three to five minutes in every hour of screen time. You can stand and walk around the house, or furthermore, you can walk your puppy or add some regular exercises.
X. Li, Z. Xiao and K. Yang, "The Design of Seat for Sitting Posture Correction Based on Ergonomics," 2020 International Conference on Computer Engineering and Application (ICCEA), 2020
M. Vergara, A. Page, "Relationship between comfort and back posture and mobility in sitting-posture", Applied Ergonomics, Volume 33, Issue 1, 2002
Madhwani, K. P., & Nag, P. K. (2017). Web-based KAP Intervention on Office Ergonomics: A Unique Technique for Prevention of Musculoskeletal Discomfort in Global Corporate Offices. Indian journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 21(1), 18–22.