Unlike the time when working from home was primarily a thing for freelancers, these days, especially since the pandemic, it is common to see employers allow their staff to work from home.
While working from home is fast becoming a culture. Back, hand, and wrist injuries have been increasing too, according to a study conducted by One Call, a healthcare network management company and ancillary services provider for the workers’ compensation industry, who compared claim data from 2019 to 2020 and found that:
10.3 percent increase in wrist or forearm sprain, strain, or contusion
13.2 percent increase in pain in hand or finger
24.6 percent increase in lower back pain
Honestly, work can sometimes be a pain, but it doesn’t have to cause you pain. Here are 6 tips to help you set up a spine-friendly workspace for your safety and comfort.
Use the right chair
According to research, about 50% of people in the industrialized world suffer from some form of back pain, because of poor sitting chair design. When you sit for about 8 to 15 hours daily in any chair, you are likely to deal with many ailments such as back and neck pain. That is why you need to find a suitable ergonomic office chair for your workspace.
When looking for an ergonomic chair, here are factors to consider:
- Height–Your chair should let you sit with your feet flat on the floor and your thighs roughly parallel to the floor.
- Backrest Recline and Tilt–Look for chairs that can recline at least 135 degrees back with synchronous tilt. Research has shown that a reclined seat significantly reduces the pressure on your back and is beneficial for people with back pain.
- Lumbar support–the shape of the backrest should have a natural curve to support your lower back. Consider using a lumbar support pillow if your chair lacks proper lumbar support.
- Armrests–Look for armrests that are not just height adjustable, but can pivot inwards to support the entire length of your forearm when performing certain tasks such as keyboarding.
You need an ergonomic desk
From an ergonomic point of view, the most important aspect of your desk is height. A too-high desktop will cause strain on your forearms as you type, while an overly low desk will cause you to hunch over as you work, straining your back and shoulders.
Several desk designs offer a variety of features, adjust abilities, and in different heights. There are also standing desk options that are spine-friendly. While your desk height is important, the ability to adjust it throughout the day is also critical as it enables you to alter your posture to overcome fatigue and prevent repetitive motion-related injuries.
Positioning your monitor
Since you will work on computers, it is important how you position it, as that can make a difference in how your back feels when you are at work. Try tilting the keyboard down and slightly away from you for better wrist posture.
Ensure to have your mouse close enough so you can use it with your arms relaxed and as close to your body as possible. Position the monitor in front of you at eye level, not off to one side, to avoid neck and eye strain. You may also consider getting an external monitor or keyboard if using a laptop.
Get the right keyboard and mouse
It’s important to get a good mouse and keyboard, and its placement right. This sometimes may require ditching your current devices altogether for more ergonomic ones.
Many office workers suffer from tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other repetitive strain injuries caused by poorly designed keyboards and mouse positioning.
Since your posture and desk height dictate the correct height of your keyboard and mouse. Your forearms should be roughly parallel to the floor and your wrists straight rather than bent. If your desk is too high to allow this, you can use a keyboard tray or drawer to place your keyboard at the right height.
Organize your workstation
To create a spine-friendly workspace, you are free to do as you wish regarding workspace design. Keep in mind that your desk is your dashboard, so endeavor to declutter your space.
Keep things you use all the time within reach.
Stand up, take a break, and move around
For people who spend long hours working on laptops, try to spend an hour or two each day using your laptop while standing rather than sitting in a chair. That is why standing desks are popular options these days.
However, don’t just stand, take a break, and move around too. I don’t mean a coffee break; I mean, a spine break. Stretch and take a short walk to get the blood flowing.
We live a big part of our lives at work, whether in our home or at the office, but it doesn’t mean our health and happiness should be paused during this time. If you weigh the above suggestions for creating a spine-friendly workspace, it would not only benefit your health, it will positively affect your productivity.