By: Phillip Liscio, R.M.T.
The days of quarantine and self-isolation have arrived! With no end in sight, many professionals and students find themselves working and studying from home. This is a good thing as we combat the spread of COVID-19, a coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, poor ergonomics have increased physical tension.
Working in a different environment whether it be on your sofa, kitchen or dining room table, has caused people to experience an earlier onset of musculoskeletal pain than usual. This can come in the form of a stiff neck and/or tension in the low back/upper gluteal region. With no ergonomic assessment of your home office in the near future, it is up to you, yourself, to modify your own ergonomics as you owe it to your body and health.
Here are my top 5 researched and learned ergonomic tips:
- Invest in a good chair.
Grandma’s old chair is vintage and I respect that. However, it will not cut it when you have to sit in it for 6-8 hours per day. Invest in a chair with adjustable arm rests, lumbar support, and seat height. A good chair will cost you a minimum of $200, but it is worth the investment.
- Modify your work space to sit and stand.
Having a great chair is a good start but I would not recommend sitting all day. Being able to convert your sitting into a standing desk is crucial. Look into an adjustable desk where you can put all of your work equipment (laptop, second monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.) on it. There are two popular options: Desk riser frame, where your table top mounts on top of it (the legs move up and down) or a 30-35 inch portable standing desk. Both come in manual and electric motor options. They start around $200 in price.
- Look at ‘eye’ level.
With your workstation, where you are looking is essential for neck health. Make sure that you are looking straight, at eye level, into the monitor(s). Looking up and down for prolonged periods of time can rain havoc on your cervical spine and the tissues surrounding it.
- If you have multiple monitors, make sure to switch where you are looking from time to time.
What I mean by this is to be observant of what you put on your left monitor and what is on the right. Make sure that you are not looking too much to one side. Therefore, switch what goes on each monitor periodically.
- Every hour, MOVE!
Go to the bath room, get some water, do the stairs. These are just some of the examples. Set a timer on your phone or smartwatch to remind you to get moving!
P.S. Do not forget to ask your employer for some funds to be allocated to an ergonomic workstation at home.
Phillip Liscio is a Registered Massage Therapist. He has been working at the Ottawa Health Group at both downtown and Kanata clinics for over 5 years. He specializes in therapeutic treatments and specific self-care protocols for his patients.