Simple ergonomics tips to keep your back healthy
With most people currently working from home and likely to be continuing this pattern to some degree for the foreseeable future, sitting posture is becoming a major focus. While it seems obvious that poor sitting posture is going to have a negative effect on your body it may not be immediately obvious what changes you might need to make. Simply trying your hardest to sit up straight and have someone remind you when you start to slouch doesn’t work in the long term, you need to take a little time to set up your workstation suitably.
The first thing you need to look at is the type of chair you’re using. Sitting on the couch or a bed will not help your posture! There are many other options, but which is best? An ergonomic office chair is very good where available. Many people who had one in the office have taken it home for the short term and it should already be set up for you. If you have another office chair at home, check it has height adjustability, a back rest that goes up to your shoulder blades and lumbar support at a minimum. A lumbar roll can substitute for in-built lumbar support if necessary. While some dining chairs appear supportive, they usually aren’t adjustable, so if your body isn’t perfectly suited, a full day of sitting in one may still result in stiffness or pain.
Secondly, your desk height and set-up needs to be considered so your shoulders aren’t elevated too high or dropping too low in order to use the mouse/keyboard. Your shoulder and elbow joints should be at or near 90degrees, while your wrist should be flat. If you have an elevated mouse or keyboard a wrist rest made of foam, or at a pinch a rolled towel, will ensure your wrists aren’t extending too high. Make sure your keyboard and mouse are close to your body so you don’t have to reach your arms forward which will round your shoulders.
Keep your eyes up
Finally, monitor height is a big factor to maintaining natural posture, especially over a longer time. Best practice is to have the screen elevated so the top of the screen is level with your eyes when you are sitting upright. This works well if you are using a desktop computer or separate screen and also when you have an external keyboard and mouse with your laptop. The one instance it’s not as easy to implement is when you are using the keyboard on your laptop. The compromise you will have to make is to ensure the keyboard is relatively close to your body and tilt the laptop screen back a long way (up to 135 degrees) so your eyes can drift down to the screen rather than slouching your head down to suit the viewing angle.
Don’t forget to get up and walk around every hour or so. A lot of the incidental walking people used to do when commuting via public transport, along with walking around the office to meetings or talking to colleagues is not happening. While it may not seem like a lot of movement, it helps break up the accumulation of stiffness that can occur with prolonged sitting.
Find what suits you
Understanding the biomechanics of your unique situation helps to make appropriate changes to your environment as each work zone can vary greatly and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ergonomics.
Here at Fairfield Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Centre, we are experts in biomechanics and the movement of the human body so if you need further advice or assessment specific to you please contact us on 94897744 or book an appointment online.