Advice for avoiding aches and pains
Setting up the laptop at the dining room table or kitchen island for the occasional work-from-home (WFH) day usually does the trick, but as we all settle in for an extended WFH scenario, taking the time to figure out a better ergonomic setup will go a long way in keeping you happy and healthy.
When you’re uncomfortable, it’s hard to concentrate. When your neck and back start to ache, you might not feel at the top of your game. Good ergonomic design can help.
Simple strategies can help keep you healthy, with no special equipment required.
- Sit all the way back. Push yourself back in your chair — as far as you can go — to support your back, and avoid perching on the edge of your chair, since it puts a lot of strain on your body.
- Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. If your chair isn't adjustable and your feet don't quite sit flat, put a box or even a couple of books under your feet. Ideally, you want your knees to be slightly below hip level to reduce strain on your hip flexors.
- Use a chair with armrests if you've got one. Resting your forearms while you type helps keep your shoulders relaxed. Make sure they are set to the right height — position your elbows at about 90 degrees.
- Keep your keyboard close. Pull the keyboard and mouse as close to you on your desk or table as you can. Reaching out to type puts strain on your neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists.
- Keep your screen at eye level. The top four to six centimetres of the screen should be right in your line of sight when you sit up straight. If you need to raise it, placing a sturdy box under your monitor can do the trick. If you’re working on your laptop with no additional monitor, but you have a keyboard and mouse, rest your laptop on a raised surface to get it at eye level. Keep the screen an arm’s length away from your face and the keyboard close to the edge of the table.
Easy hacks to try
- Use your TV as a monitor. No monitor at home? Here’s a handy hack: connect your laptop to your TV with an HDMI cable for a big-screen experience.
- Create your own stand-up desk. Put a sturdy box or small pile of books on your kitchen counter, rest your laptop on it, add a keyboard and a mouse, and voilà— you’ve got a stand-up workstation.Elbow height should be level with the working surface.
Remember: Standing all day can be as hard on your body as sitting for long periods of time, so make sure to switch between sitting and standing frequently.
And don’t forget the most basic advice of all…
Take breaks. Every hour or so, get up, walk around, or stretch a bit. It’ll keep you fresh and help your body stay limber.
For more information, check out the links below:
- “How to make your workspace ergonomically correct” — video
- “Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide”— Mayo Clinic
- “Desk stretches: Video collection”— Mayo Clinic
- “What are the risks of sitting too much?”— Mayo Clinic
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