How to Ergonomically Improve Your Work or Home Office
Summary: Dealing with aches and pains from sitting at your desk all day? You’re not alone. Keep reading to discover 5 ways to ergonomically improve your office so that you can work pain-free.
Across the world, millions of office workers are suffering from some kind of ache or pain in their neck, back, or shoulders. Are you one of them?
If you said yes, you may want to take a look at and reevaluate your workstation ergonomics. Not only will this help alleviate any physical pain you may be experiencing, but it will also boost your morale and help you get more work done.
Office life — wherever it takes place — doesn’t have to be painful. Here’s how to make it work for you.
Check Your Posture
For most office workers, improper desk posture is the root of their neck, back, and shoulder pain.
So, how can you fix it? One easy thing you can do is check your posture at regular intervals throughout the day by setting alarms or placing a reminder near your screen where you’re sure to see it. To do this, take a deep breath, place your feet firmly on the ground, sit up straight, roll your shoulders down and back, and think about aligning your spine.
If you’re having trouble remembering to check in on your posture yourself, try using a posture corrector like Upright Go, a tiny, lightweight gadget you place between your shoulder blades that connects with an app and alerts you whenever you start to slouch.
Invest in a New Chair
An important part of good posture is a good chair. Invest in yourself by purchasing an adjustable chair that promotes good posture. These chairs tend to have lumbar back support, which means that the back of the chair fills in the space between your lower back and the seat by following the natural curve of your spine. Without lumbar support, your muscles may need to work overtime to support your spine, exacerbating any pain or tension you already have (or prompting you to slouch).
To get the most support possible, you’ll want to scooch your bottom to the back of your seat, sit up straight, and adjust your seat so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are horizontal with your hips. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle and your chair should be about 20 inches (or an arm’s length) away from the computer screen. Check to see if you’re far enough away by lifting your hand towards your screen.
For additional support, you can also add a memory foam lumbar support pillow to the back of your chair or elbow supports to the arms of your chair. These will help alleviate any shoulder-related stress you may encounter throughout the day.
Raise Your Line of Vision
If you suffer from a curved back or stooped shoulders, this might be caused by staring too far down at your computer screen all day. Your line of sight should ideally be anywhere from looking straight ahead to looking down at about 35 degrees.
To adjust your line of sight, we recommend a height-adjustable desk, a laptop stand, or additional raised monitors. There’s also the tried-and-true method of stacking some books underneath your monitors in the meantime.
Upgrade Your Keyboard and Mouse
If you work from home and hunch over a laptop all day, consider purchasing an external keyboard and mouse.
Laptops are not particularly conducive to proper desk posture (and, ahem, neither is working on your couch) and can often cause adverse neck and upper back pain. This is because you want your keyboard to be as close to you as possible and your screen an arm’s length away.
To remedy this, place your laptop far enough away so your middle finger touches the screen when you extend your arm. Then, connect your external keyboard and mouse. Bring your keyboard close so that your arms are at 90 degrees and place your mouse right beside it so each accessory is shoulders’ distance apart.
Stand or Walk While You Work
Alongside sourdough starters, standing and treadmill desks became all the rage during the pandemic. But really, they’re the desks of the future.
Standing or walking is one of the best ways to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol, improve circulation, and reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. And doing it while you’re working means you don’t have to worry about squeezing it in before or after work. Plus, being active while you work will give you a boost of mental and physical energy.
The benefits of standing or walking desks are backed by science. According to a Harvard study conducted on 74 healthy individuals, standing burns 8 more calories per hour than sitting, and walking burns 130 more calories per hour than sitting.
To properly use a standing desk, you’ll want to check that it’s set at the right height. Just like at a seated desk, your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms should rest comfortably on the desk.
We don’t recommend standing or walking all day. Try a schedule of 30 minutes on (standing/walking) and 30 minutes off (sitting).
Take Breaks and Hydrate Frequently
Unfortunately, “sitting disease” is a very real thing, which is why this last (often overlooked) step is critical to your overall health and wellness.
Most experts suggest getting up every 30 minutes to move and stretch your legs, even if it’s just to grab a snack or fill up your water bottle in the kitchen. If you’d like to fit in a quick workout, we recommend squats, tricep dips using the arms of your chair, or desk pushups, a modified pushup where you place your feet on the ground and your hands on the desk.
Finally, remember to drink water. Staying hydrated while you work has been proven to boost mental performance and keep your mind alert.
Now that your home or work office is all set up for your physical and mental wellness, it’s time to check up on your internet. Slow internet is like a poorly set-up workstation — it will prevent you from getting your work done, and probably feel painful, too! Find out how to upgrade to better home internet with EarthLink.