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COVID-19 has become a hot topic amongst majority of people at the moment with lots of their worries surrounding the 14 day isolation. Businesses are worried about the potential of them temporarily closing down and individuals being out for work.
Quite a few businesses are trialling whether working from home could be a viable option for them and their employees. This is a great solution to help minimise the spread of the virus and a great way to put themselves and their employees at ease knowing they have this option if needed.
However, when it comes to working at home, not everyone has a home office set up, and although it may be tempting to kick back and relax on the couch it will not be physically sustainable and using the ironing board as a stand-up desk could end in disaster. So what to do? What is the best way to set yourself up for working at home? CSSM Osteopath Jaimi Schroen gives us some answers.
Those who have a sitting desk
It is important to have a well-supported seating position, with an adjustable chair being ideal as it will allow you change the height, adjust the back rest and seat tilt as required, however if a chair like this is not available a chair you would want to look for should involve the following things:
-Allows you to have your feet touching the floor
-Allows your knees to be at a height lower or at the same level as your hips
-Ensures there is a gap of 2-3 finger width between the front of your chair and the back of your knees
-If your chair does not have lumbar support you can add some yourself. At the clinic you can purchase a lumbar roll which adds additional lumbar support to your chair, which could be ideal to try out if you are trialling a working from home period. However if you find that you are working from home due to requiring isolation you can use a rolled up towel to add some lumbar support.
-Arm rests are ok as long as they can be adjusted and do not interfere with the use of the keyboard and mouse or prevent you from being at a comfortable distance from the desk. (1)
For those that wish to stand and work
It is crucial if you are going to be standing all day that your desk can be adjusted to best suit your stature. Working from home can make this quite difficult as most people will not have access to an adjustable desk (and no, the ironing board doesn’t count).
As long as the desk is high enough to allow your arms to rest on the desk with your elbows bent at a 90-120 degree angle the desk should be able to work for you. (1)
Work station set up
For the ideal work station set up you should have the following things:
– A flat surface for the mouse and keyboard
– Enough space under the desk so your legs are not touching the desk and have adequate room to comfortably stretch your legs if required
– Have enough space around you so all other equipment you require is within arm’s reach so you do not put added stress on your body by being in awkward positions to use something
– The screen height should be set up so the top of the screen is at eye level or slightly lower to help reduce eye strain and fatigue
-The screen should be set one arm’s length away to help avoid eye strain and fatigue
-If you are using multiple monitors position screens right next to each other in an arc (1).
No matter your desk set up – whether expertly fitted or a makeshift arrangement using a milk crate and a volume of the yellow pages from 1998 – An important thing to remember is continuing to keep active and moving throughout the day. After every hour make sure you get up and move around perform a few stretches before going back into your working position. This will assist you in avoiding any of those aches and pain that can be common with prolonged periods in the same positions.
The other important point is exercise- If you are house bound and can’t get to the gym getting to exercise is difficult. For some tips , look out for tomorrows blog post for some unique exercising tips. Until then – stay healthy (as best you can).
Jaimi Schroen is an Osteopath at Camberwell Sports and Spinal Medicine. With a deep understanding of biomechanics and what makes things work. She understands headaches, back pain and the symptoms of poor desk ergonomics. She likes being at home, but not working from home.
Worksafe (2020). Retrieved 15 March 2020, from https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/83067/guide-ergo-comp-workstations.pdf
Ergonomic Info – Resources. (2020). Retrieved 15 March 2020, from https://www.sitspot.com.au/resources/ergonomic-info
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