Setting your desk up and sitting properly will prevent nasty injuries further down the line
With covid 19 upon us it is more important than ever that we stay healthy. Now the nation will be working from home there were not many companies that were prepared. Many staff members nationwide have been sent home with little advice and expected to press on with no regard to the health of their bodies. One of the major issues when being forced to work from home is not taking time to set up your desk correctly.
Most people will be reading this hunched over a screen with their neck poking forwards and their upper back rounded. This exact slouched posture will eventually lead to painful injuries throughout the body. Common areas include, neck, upper back, wrist, elbow, shoulder and low back pains.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is finding what seems to be the comfiest seat they can find. Unfortunately, what seems the comfiest is often the worst for our joints (mainly our spine) and something like a sofa will only promote a slouched posture and this will lead to numerous injuries including disc, joint and ligament injuries. It is best practice to follow the above points. It is not enough to set everything up correctly and then not sit as you should. Now more than ever it is sensible to organise the desk ergonomics properly, particularly as we are not going to be able to get to our Chiropractor to ease these aches and pains.
Setting up your work station
Pick a chair which Is going to support your spine and not promote a slouched posture (such as a sofa). This should be high enough so your feet sit flat on the floor and your hips are parallel to the floor. If the chair is to high then using a foot rest or a pile of books will keep your hips level.
Keyboard and mouse
Both the mouse and the keyboard should be just in front of you so you’re no leaning forward over the objects. Both wrists and forearms should be neutral, so using the laptop tracker is not an option as that will promote an unnatural position for both your wrist and shoulder. If using a laptop then getting yourself an attachable mouse and keyboard is crucial.
If you don’t have the equipment it is down to your employers to provide this ‘All employers have the duty of care for their employees health’ – Shah Qureshi, head of employment and professional discipline at Irwin Mitchell.
Your screen should be an arms-length in front of you with the middle of the screen being at eye level. The normal guidelines mention the top of the screen should be at eye level but I have found that over the course of the day this promotes a gradual rounding of shoulders. If you’re working on a laptop use an attachable screen which you can adjust or a good laptop stand is also adequate.
When people start working from home for the first time their office space is usually cluttered. It is important to make sure nothing is under the desk as we have to be sat straight. Another common mistake which will cause rotation through either your neck or spine is having your keyboard off centre from the screen.
Standing desks are also recommended but similar rules apply. A neutral spine, wrists and forearms are still important. It will also be a welcome rest change from sitting for the duration of your day.
Giving your back a break every 20 minutes is sensible. Sitting for hours at a time without moving will slowly increase pressure through the spine. The stiffer your spine gets the more likely an injury will occur. If youre pressed for time with deadlines then doing simple exercises at your desk will really help. If you want tips then go to my other blog ‘bring the gym to your desk’.