PART 2: At-Home Ergonomics – Workstation Setups
90% of our patients who are working from home have all of a sudden been experiencing more neck, upper back and low back pain. Why is this?? Well as we discussed in Part 1 of this email series that went out last week, people don’t move around as much at home as they do when they are at work. Of course we recommended getting up and moving more throughout the day. But one of the biggest reasons you may be experiencing more and more pain is that your ergonomics at home is likely not as good as when you are at work.
Chairs and desks for real office work cost money. They don’t sell good chairs and desks at your local computer stores. The chairs and desks at the local store that cost a couple hundred dollars each are nowhere near the quality of most commercial office equipment. We usually feel this difference after trying to work at home for more than a few hours consecutively. So if your office furniture is extremely poor, that is the problem. It is sometimes impossible to overcome the poor quality of desks and chairs at home. This may mean you need to invest in some new office furniture for home.
However, most people can modify their current setup at home and improve their working ergonomics. The single most common mistake is having a computer monitor that is too low. This is going to ALWAYS happen when trying to work from a laptop. You CANNOT work from a laptop by itself and not put your body under severe physical stress due to the position it puts your body in. If you are stuck using a laptop at home, I would recommend getting an external monitor and separate key board and mouse. This way you have the potential to setup your workspace as I will describe in the remainder of this article.
COMPUTER WORKSTATION ERGONOMICS
There are many things happening in the image above from OSHA’s website. The most common mistake made with computer workstation setups, in my experience, is the position of the monitor. For most people the monitor is positioned too low. You can see from the picture above, approximately 1/3 of the monitor is above eye level and 2/3 is below. This allows you to keep your head in a more neutral position while looking at your screen. Most people have their monitor too low, or extremely low in the case of a laptop. This creates forward flexion of the head and more muscular strain and pressure on the joints of the neck,.
Correcting the height of the monitor is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your workstation setup at home. You can simply add some books or reams of paper under the monitor until it is at the right height for YOU. I will discuss other important things in this image in our next article.
REMEMBER: We are open and seeing patients right now. If you need an appointment we can get you in right away. We are following all recommendations for health care providers (not treating COVID-19 of course). We are also offering telehealth visits where one of our doctors can meet with you virtually and get you on the path to feeling better. Call either of our offices (Boise or Nampa) to schedule either type of visit.