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Working remotely during the pandemic? Follow these tips to prevent injuries while working from home
If you're suddenly working from home, you may find that you lack the ergonomically designed chair and desk normally found in your office. You may be tempted to work from your kitchen counter, couch or bed. However, those locations are not ideal for maintaining good posture, and they could lead to an increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders. There are a few easy things you can do to maintain proper ergonomics and prevent injuries while working from home.
Set up a proper workstation.
Elevate your laptop or computer. The computer monitor should be directly in front of you with the top of the screen at, or just slightly below, eye level.
If you sit at a desk or table, leave room underneath to sit comfortably. Elevate the desk if it cannot be adjusted with items from around the house, like boxes or books. Keep your mouse and keyboard on the same surface. According to the Mayo Clinic, “You should keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows when typing and using your mouse". The Mayo Clinic advises you to alternate the hand you use to operate the mouse. Move the mouse to the opposite side your keyboard to do this. Keep items you use frequently, like a phone or office supplies, close to you to avoid repetitive movement that could strain your muscles. During phone calls, use speaker phone to avoid straining your neck.
Have good posture and add lumbar support.
Do not slouch or hunch over your workspace. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. If possible, choose a chair that supports the curve of your spine. Adjust your chair so that your feet sit flat on the floor and keep your thighs parallel to the floor. This will help support good posture. If your chair is too high and cannot be adjusted, use a footrest. If your chair is too low, you can use a pillow or rolled up towel for additional support.
Take breaks and change your position.
Staying in the same position for a prolonged amount of time puts certain muscles under stress. For example, sitting for hours at a time can cause muscle stiffness and soreness. You can prevent this by taking breaks to walk and stretch. This will help relieve tension. Walking around your home will help if you cannot go outside.
(Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Physical Therapy Association, Colorado State University)