John is an experienced freelance content writer with an eclectic employment history.
For a variety of reasons, more people than ever are working from home. For many, it’s a liberating experience; a flexible lifestyle that gives you more control over your time and more responsibility for your work.
It’s also a good way to learn the virtues of an ergonomic working environment, even if you have to suffer to learn that lesson.
Starting your work day by opening your laptop at the breakfast bar in your kitchen as the sun streams in through the windows and your coffee steams away in your favourite mug is empowering, but it can turn into a nightmare by hour six, when your back, neck, shoulders, and, against all sense, your hips are aching.
Fortunately, fixing these problems is not as painful or expensive as you might think. Here are five tips for avoiding back and neck pain while working from home that don’t involve buying a $1,000 ergonomic chair.
1. Set Your Height and Distance
It’s easy to forget how interconnected everything is when it comes to our body, with your spine in particular being significantly affected by… well, everything. In this case, your arms are the culprits.
When you are sitting at your keyboard, your elbow should be at a satisfying right angle with your forearms resting parallel to the desk. Ensuring that this is the case also has the benefit of reinforcing your posture, since you have to sit close to the desk to achieve that right angle, and being that close to the desk makes it difficult to slouch.
2. Set Your Screen Height
We all know we are supposed to sit with a straight back, but we rarely get told to adjust our screen position to suit. If the thing you are looking at is a good twelve inches below your eye line, you are going to end up craning your neck, and boom goes your straight posture. Remember, your spine doesn’t stop at your shoulders.
Once you have established where your eyes will be when you are sitting correctly, make sure that your monitor is at an appropriate height. As a rough rule of thumb, you want the top of your screen to be a little higher than your eyes, though your work may require some modification to this rule. For example, if you spend most of the time staring at the bottom of the screen, you’ll want your screen higher.
If you are working on a laptop, consider buying a separate keyboard, so you can place the laptop higher up without having to type with your hands above your head!
3. Get Up!
As much as we might like a nice lie down, our bodies are not built to stay in one position for extended periods of time, and things are no different if you’re working from home.
Every 20-30 minutes, get up out of your chair and walk around a bit. If you really want to look after yourself, take a minute to do some stretches. Get the blood flowing into those parts of your body that have been mostly sedentary.
This also applies to those of you intrepid workers who are using standing desks, as research has show that sedentary standing for long periods can have all manner of detrimental effects on the body.
4. Support Your Wrists
We all know the importance of supporting your wrists to prevent things like carpal tunnel syndrome, but going back to the interconnected nature of our bodies, proper wrist support is important for your neck as well.
If you are typing at awkward angles, you are going to be straining the muscles in your arms. You might—if you are very single-minded—maintain perfect posture as your forearms scream in pain, but most of us mere mortals will end up adjusting our posture to take the strain off of our arm muscles, and that’s not good because we’ve put all that effort into making sure our posture is good.
Your wrists should be as close to flat as you can get them, so that the back of your hand is level with your forearm. If you are having to tilt your hands forward or backwards to type, you are going to cause yourself problems in the long run.
5. Place Your Feet Correctly
Much like your elbows, your knees should at a right angle. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground, your feet planted flat on the floor, and your shins vertical. Essentially, your knees should be in line with your hips.
Of course, as per tip number three, you don’t want to plant yourself rigidly in this position and never move, but your base resting position should look something like this. The further from this position you get, the more strain you place on your hips and, in turn, your back.
Even the most determined among us would struggle to rigidly observe all of these tips 100% of the time, so don’t feel bad if you find yourself occasionally slipping out of correct posture or catch your feet wandering. Try your best to keep that back and neck straight, your elbows and knees at right angles, and your wrists straight, and you’ll find it becomes second nature.
And, if you'd like to see some of this information from a more medically reliable source, you can check out these links;
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 John Bullock
Swati Sharma from India on July 07, 2021:
Thank you for sharing these valuable tips, it's a really helpful article is given by you.
Charlene Gallant from Cape Town, South Africa on July 06, 2021:
Will try to mindful of all of these as I set up my workstation correctly...Thanks John:)