Government advice and instruction in the light of coronavirus has seen many more of us now working from home. This still looks likely to remain the case for a significant amount of time. If this is the case with you, it’s important to get things set up correctly to minimise any undue stress being placed on your neck and back. Here are some simple tips for keeping your spine pain-free while working from home.
1. Keep the laptop off your lap
If you’re just checking your emails or doing a bit of Googling then having the laptop on your lap’s fine. If you’re working, it definitely isn’t. Try it and see what happens to your body. You’ll find that you slouch through the whole of your back, your head will roll forward and all this puts undue pressure on the discs in your spine and over stretches the muscles.
If you’re working, put the laptop on a desk or table. Even if this isn’t the perfect set up, it’ll be a lot better than having the laptop on your lap. Have the laptop far enough away from you that your forearms can comfortably rest on the surface.
2. Raise the screen higher
The ideal laptop height and angle lets you view the screen easily without bending your neck. You might be able to adjust the angle of the screen or the height of your chair to achieve this. If you have the screen too low, you may soon find that your shoulders and neck feel the strain.
3.Use a separate keyboard, mouse and screen
When it comes to using a laptop for working from home, the ideal setup involves turning your laptop into more of a desktop setup. This can be easily achieved by using a separate keyboard, mouse and screen. So, a few purchases are needed but it’s a real game changer if you’re working from home. Your laptop essentially just becomes a hard drive allowing you to have the screen at an ideal height and your keyboard and mouse at the ideal reach.
4.Position your body correctly
Check to see how your legs are angled. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be at an even height with your hips. If this isn’t the case then again, a few simple adaptations can resolve things making you a whole lot more comfortable. If your hips are too high or your feet don’t reach the floor, use a step or block to support the bottom of your feet. If your hips are too low, try sitting on a folded towel or cushion to raise your hips. This can help you maintain a neutral lumbar spine and reduce strain on your lower back. If any issues persist, try a rolled towel in the small of your back.
5. Find an ergonomic chair
While many homeworkers will be making use of dining chairs or similar to work from, if you are working from home for any length of time, then you should really consider investing in a proper chair. The type of chair you sit in while using your laptop is critical. Any office chair that is fully adjustable and has lumbar support may work, but you need to be sure to set it up correctly. If your chair does not have adequate support, you may need a lumbar roll or improvise with a rolled or folded towel. Remember to sit all the way back in the chair so when you rest against it, the lumbar support is helping to maintain the natural curve in your lower back.
6. Take breaks
Common sense and we all know that we should do it but it’s often ignored once we get stuck into a piece of work or if the pressure’s on. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a brief break every forty minutes. Get your eyes off the screen and get up and move away from the desk. Have a walk around; if you’re making a cup of tea, do some simple stretches while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. Whilst our bodies are strong and will tolerate a lot, we’re not designed to sit all day so break it up through the day with a bit of movement and stretching.
7. Stand up
For people who spend long hours working on laptops, try to spend an hour or two each day using your laptop while standing rather than sitting in a chair. Standing desks and stands that can sit on your desk are increasingly popular options. All the feedback I’ve heard from patients who’ve moved to standing while working has been overwhelmingly positive.
These are all simple tips; most of it you probably know already but be failing to put into action. Take the little bit of time that it takes and you should reap the rewards in terms of being more comfortable through your working day. A blog coming soon will cover simple stretches that you can do at home to counter the demands of working from home but, in the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to contact us.