Avoiding Injury While Working from Home: Proper Ergonomics

Have you been spending a lot of time working from home during this pandemic?  Have you acquired more aches and pains? This could be contributed to poor workstation ergonomics during these past months of working from home. You are not alone, about 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working remotely and a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders can arise from poor workplaces [1, 2]. As physical therapists, we are competent in proper body mechanics and can help rearrange your workstation, so your workstation fits you! It is important that you and your work area interact most efficiently and safely since you are spending about 40 hours a week there.

Let’s take a look at how you’re supposed to be positioned and then you can see if you look like this…

  • Your feet should be flat on the floor and your hips and back should be against the back rest. This allows optional back positioning and your back to be supported. If your feet don’t touch the floor and you can’t adjust your chair, use some boxes or books to bring the ground up to you [3].
  • Your elbows should be in an “L” position and shoulders relaxed. Ensure your wrists are in line with your elbows and minimal bend in your wrists [3, 4].
  • When looking at your computer screen, you want your eyes to land on the top third of your screen. If the screen is too low, you can use boxes or books to raise it into the right position [3].

We have over 300 joints in our body and we are built to move! The number one way to keep yourself free of aches ad pains is to take breaks while working and get up and move [5]. Before you work tomorrow, I challenge you to fix your workstation and set a goal to get up and move!!

References:

  1. University S. A snapshot of a new working-from-home economy. Stanford News. https://news.stanford.edu/2020/06/29/snapshot-new-working-home-economy/. Published June 26, 2020. Accessed November 15, 2020
  2. Department of Labor logo UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Ergonomics - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics. Accessed November 15, 2020.
  3. mcgee15. Home workstation ergonomics. Running from Injury. https://runningfrominjury.com/2020/03/27/home-workstation-ergonomics/. Published April 14, 2020. Accessed November 15, 2020.
  4. P J, Cindy, Jagannath, et al. 10 Ergonomics Dos and Don'ts For Those Now Working from Home. Boston University. http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/10-ergonomics-dos-and-donts-for-those-now-working-from-home/. Published April 1, 2020. Accessed November 15, 2020.
  5. Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169. Published April 27, 2019. Accessed November 15, 2020.