Tips for Improving Home Office Ergonomics

Chiropractic North Vancouver

By Dr. Adam Bell
QubeCore Sports & Rehab Chiropractor

Musculoskeletal pain is currently one of the most common reasons for physician visits in North America. One of the major contributors to this, are the countless hours that are spent behind the screen at home, work or both.

This past year has resulted in a large proportion of individuals who are now away from their normal office setup and have had to figure out how to set up their office at home. If the station isn’t set up properly, it can lead to prolonged poor posture causing increased stress on the spine, discs and the supporting musculature which can lead to common conditions such as neck pain, headaches and low back pain. This is where we can help. I have put together a list of helpful tips for improving the ergonomics of your workstation to help prevent these common preventable conditions from occurring and/or returning.

1. Chair Support and height
a. Finding a good chair to use is important for the prolonged work hours from home. Although you might not have the fancy chair you do at the office, you can make little tweaks to what you have at home. Ideally the chair should be at a height so that your thighs are parallel to the floor with your knees either level or slightly lower than your hips.

b. Another important feature is whether there is proper low back/lumbar support. Ideally your shoulders and low back should be against the back rest, however, most chairs are missing that essential lumbar support. An extremely easy fix to this problem, is to roll a towel up and tape it so it stays together, and then placing that in the small of your low back as you sit to provide proper support.

2. Maintain proper posture
a. Maintaining good posture is extremely important when sitting for long periods. As we sit, our body naturally adapts to that position. As our protective muscles tire, the strain starts to get put on our ligaments whose job is to hold our joints together and protect them. These ligaments start to get stretched which makes them not as effective at acting as shock absorber, much like when an elastic band is stretched for a long period. This stretching which lasts for an hour or two after getting up, makes us prone to injuries in that time period.

b. The key to ensuring you have good posture is to make sure that your ears, shoulders, and hips are all in alignment. This makes it so that our naturally strong spine is positioned to handle the load of sitting as effectively as possible.

c. In the clinic we can also provide stretches and exercises to promote proper posture, as well as helping to relax the muscles that are commonly overworked while sitting.

3. Mouse, keyboard and screen

a. With the change to working from home, there’s a lot of individuals who are now working on a laptop instead of their desktop at the office. Although the portability of laptops are great, they do have their downsides. Not being able to set the proper height of the screen results in the screen being too low, which increases the strain in the neck. The major recommendation in this case, is to utilize a computer screen to hook the laptop to that can be adjusted to eye level, or use a detachable keyboard and mouse so that the laptop screen can be placed at eye level.
b. The mouse and keyboard should be at a height so that your elbows can be bent to 90 degrees with the forearms parallel to the ground. This helps to reduce strain in the shoulder as well as on the wrist.
4. MOVE!
a. The final and most important tip is to make sure to keep your body moving. The changes talked about early can start to occur after just 30 minutes of sitting, so it is essential to change positions every 30 minutes if possible.

Whether that be just stretching or getting up to move around, it is important to keep moving because “motion is the lotion for the joints” and we want to keep our joints well hydrated and mobile.

QubeCore Sports & Rehab offers chiropractic services in North Vancouver for a wide range of injuries and conditions. To book your chiropractic treatment with Dr. Adam Bell, please call the clinic or book online.