How to Create a Comfortable Workspace in your Home Office – Ergonomics 101

By: Laurin Walton, Physiotherapist

When our doors re-opened in May, I recognized a trend of patients coming in with sore necks, upper backs, shoulders and arms. The majority of these body aches and pains were related to people having to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I often found myself asking these patients what their home office area looked like and how we could make it into a space that would be more comfortable.

6 Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office

If you’re going to be working from your home office for the foreseeable future and starring at a computer screen for a long period of time, following the below tips will help you avoid body aches and pains. A few small adjustments are worth it in the long run if you will be spending a significant amount of time at your desk!

  1. The 90-90 Rule

Your hips, knees, ankles and elbows should all be at approximately 90°. This may require changes to your desk or chair height. If you can’t change your desk height, you can raise your chair to ensure your elbows are at 90°. This may raise your feet too far from the floor, so consider a box or footrest to keep your hips, knees and ankles at 90°. If neither your desk or chair adjust, try adding a keyboard tray to allow your keyboard and mouse to be at a level where your elbows can be at 90°.

  1. Maintain Good Posture

Our bodies are not meant to sit for hours on end which makes it difficult to maintain good spinal posture. Allow your chair to support you by sitting with your hips all the way to the back of the chair. If the chair in your home office has lumbar support (support for your lower back), relax into it. If it doesn’t, you can roll up a towel or purchase a lumbar roll to help maintain the curve in your lower back. Think tall and don’t let your chin poke forward. Check out this video on correcting your posture for more tips.

  1. Ensure Your Screen Is In a Good Position

Your computer screen should be approximately 1 arm’s length away from you with the top line of it just below eye level. If your screen doesn’t adjust you can put it on some books or invest in a monitor stand for your home office.

  1. Keep Your Upper Arms Close to Your Body

Shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands should be kept close to your body by adjusting armrests to a level that allows your arms to gently rest on it with your shoulders relaxed. Place your mouse and keyboard at the same level so you can use both in the optimal ergonomic position. Your hands should be at or below elbow level with your wrists in neutral. You don’t want your wrists to be bent backwards towards you.

  1. Using a Laptop

Laptops are great for portability but aren’t always practical if you have to work from it for a long period of time. Getting an external keyboard and mouse for your laptop can be helpful in allowing you to setup your home office properly. This will allow you to put your keyboard and mouse at a level that is good for your arms and your monitor at a place that is best for your neck. You can prop your laptop up on some books or a stand to get the screen to the proper level.

  1. Set Reminders

It is important not to stay in the same position for an extended amount of time. Use your phone or computer to set reminders to check your posture and take breaks away from your desk by walking around or stretching.

Feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions on how to setup your home office to reduce body pain and aches or you can book your appointment online by clicking here.