Ergonomic tips for working at home

By Michell Svesve

Work from home during lockdown

A lot of businesses and companies have suffered as a result of countries having to implement nationwide lockdowns and some have had to stop functioning completely whilst others have taken advantage of the lockdown and decided to maximize their digital presence and utilization. As such, most employees and employers have set up workstations in their homes and it’s business as usual. This move requires their undivided attention for the duration of the lockdown, therefore, here are some ergonomic tips that might come in handy to reduce neck and back strain whilst working from home;

1.Use of a good chair

• Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest on the floor but if the chair is not adjustable, you can place your feet on top of an old directory or a step stool.

 • If you are using a monitor or laptop, it should be an arm’s length away from you. Move the chair closer to the desk so that you won’t have to lean forward to reach your monitor, slouching forward means your spine is out of alignment.

• If your desk or kitchen table is too high, adjust your height by sitting on cushions, to elevate you a bit. Keep your shoulders relaxed with your arms resting comfortably on your arm rests.

2.Keep key objects close.

Key objects within reach

• Keep your telephone, stationery and essentials close to you. If they are within reach, you won’t have to stretch your arms to get them. If they are too far, rather stand up and go get them. 

3.Keyboard, mouse and telephone

• The keyboard and the mouse should be in the same surface and easily reachable.

 • Adjust the sensitivity of your mouse so that you can use it easily.

 • Try use keyboard shortcuts to reduce the number of times you have to reach for the mouse.

 • Alternate where you place your mouse so that you do not get strained from operating the mouse alone. • Whilst at your work station keep your wrists straight and your upper arms close to the body, your hands should be at or below the level of your elbows.

My workstation, my workout station!

As you drown yourself in the demands of your workstation at home, try not to forget that your health and state of mind matter too. I have complied a few exercises you can do whilst at the workstation. Call it your own way of multitasking!

1. Stretching 

The longer you remain seated on your chair, your shoulders begin to slouch and your back tightens up, so after an hour, stand up and talk a walk. Once you are back and seated onyour chair try the following:

•Seated twist- gently reach for the back of your chair or arm of your chair to the right. Hold it there and take a few deep breaths. Try the same process with the left side of your chair.

•Interlace your fingers and stretch them over your head. Take in deep and slow breaths as you do this.

•Third exercise would be to roll your shoulders forward 10-20 times then backwards 10-20 times too, softly rolling your neck back from side to side.

2. Standing 

For 30 minutes to an hour, you can try work standing at your workstation. This will help change your body posture as well as keep your body aligned properly.

3. Rolling

Use your feet to roll the tennis ball

If you have a tennis ball or any ball similar in size, keep it by your desk and use it time after time. Take the ball and place it right under your foot, with your shoes removed of course. Use your foot to roll the ball forwards and backwards and in circular motion. These movements with your feet stretch out the balls of your feet as well as your ankles as you roll the ball back and forth. Consequently, the fascia (soft tissue) in your foot gets stretched. You don’t want this tissue getting stiff because it if it does you may experience pain when walking.

4.Squeezing.

Anti-stress ball

• Your hands and fingers may be strained as a result of allthe typing one will be doing, it is advisable that you have a stress ball on your desk.

 • You can use a tennis ball; squeeze the ball gently interchangeably between both hands , this will help release tension from your fingers and hands as well as increase their strength.

Be conscious of both your workstation and body as you work from home .

If you found these exercises and information useful , feel free to drop your comments in our comments section below.

Images from Pixabay.

References

Toren, Adam. “5 Ways to Turn Your Workstation Into a Workout Station.” Google, Google, 19AD, 2014, www.google.com/amp/s/www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/236842.

Mayo Clinic, Stuff. “Office Ergonomics: Your How-to Guide.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 27 Apr. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169.

Mayo Clinic, Stuff. “Easy Desk Stretches for Your Workday.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Oct. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-stretches/art-20046041.

Bellis, Rich. “5 Simple Exercises To Fix The Damage Your Desk Job Does.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 22 Jan. 2016, www.fastcompany.com/3055658/5-simple-exercises-to-fix-the-damage-your-desk-job-does.

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