If you have the option to be working from home right now, there's a chance you're still sampling different corners of your home, trying to find the best and most productive station possible. But, if you regularly deal with back or neck pain, that couch and coffee table setup might not be cutting it.
To help you create an at-home working environment with proper ergonomics, we reached out to Adam Fritsch, PT, DPT at Athletico Physical Therapy, for some advice.
Secure a Space
If you have a desk in your home, clear off the old magazines and envelopes and label this space as your working station.
"Not only will it help you get the best ergonomic setup but it should help you stay mentally focussed, as well," Fritsch says.
"It can be hard to get into work mode when you're sitting in your kid's playroom or on your couch."
Not everyone has a desk at home, though. In that circumstance, Fritsch says your next best option to prevent back and neck pain is a chair with a seat back at the kitchen table.
"You can also use a tray table sitting in a chair with a back if needed, too. At a minimum, you'll want a table for your computer and a chair with a back."
Take Breaks and Move
Regardless of how you're set up for work, Fritsch says the best thing you can do to prevent neck or back pain is to get up at least once an hour and move around.
"Our bodies are designed to move, so getting up at least once every hour to take a break, move, and walk around is important," he explains.
"Take 5-10 minutes to change position and get your body moving. It's easy to get caught up in work, so you can also set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to get up each hour."
Adjust Your Screen
Find yourself slouching over your laptop? Without a monitor, it can be very difficult to create a solid ergonomic position.
Fritsch says that, ideally, you'd want your monitor at about eye level in order to prevent your neck from extending up or down.
"It's harder with laptops because changing the height impacts the position of your arms, but it's best to get your screen to eye level and worry less about the positioning of your arms," he adds.
"This will keep you in a neutral posture."
Avoid the Couch If Possible
If you have other options, Fritsch suggests avoid working on the couch, as "your back is less supported and your head is more likely to move forward to get closer to your screen."
While he recommends this setup the least, in order to put less strain on your neck, he says to keep your head back and your ears in line with your shoulders.
"The more you can do this, the easier it will be on your neck."
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