This is not surprising, as most people do not have a dedicated workspace within their home and haven’t therefore really considered the best ergonomic set up for the many hours we all spend sitting at computers over the course of a working week.
Using a desk-top rather than lap top computer is preferable, as the monitor height is better for our necks. Aim to have the top of the screen roughly level with your eyes. If required, place a thick book, or cardboard box under the monitor to raise it. If a lap-top is your only option, consider buying a separate mouse and keyboard. These are very cheap and will enable users to raise the lap-top screen to be more parallel with eye level, but allow wrists to rest on the work surface, enabling the shoulders and arms to be relaxed when typing.
Choosing where to work is another important factor. A fixed dining room chair and table, or breakfast bar and stool will not allow you to maintain support for your lower back and are likely to cause you to slump over time- rounding your back and allowing your shoulders to creep forwards. This position in turn puts pressure on the neck, so people tend to tilt their
head back a little to see the screen. All of this combined caused achiness in muscle tissue and eventually will start to cause spinal symptoms if left unchecked. An easy fix is to make sure your lower back is always supported. This might mean putting a small cushion or pillow behind you to maintain the natural arch (lordosis).
The easiest thing to implement which will bring the biggest benefit whilst working at home, if to set a phone or calendar alarm to notify you every 30-40 minutes to move! Simply by changing position regularly throughout the day, your body will be eternally grateful.
This doesn’t mean needing to take a 10-minute break every half an hour which might affect productivity. Instead, just stand up, walk around your desk twice, or perform a minute of gentle hip circles (imagine you are trying to keep a hula hoop rolling around your waist). The change of position will give a break to the muscles that were previously keeping you in the sitting position and importantly move blood around your body, preventing stasis in any one area.
If you are likely to be working from home for some time yet, consider buying a proper desk and chair, especially if your company may contribute to the cost (if you don’t ask, you don’t get!). A sit-stand desk would be best, as it offers flexibility, but a chair that you can adjust to suit your body shape is arguably more important. They may seem expensive initially but could save you emergency trips to the osteopath in the long run! If you look at the cost per day, they are a very worthwhile investment- much the same as a decent mattress.
In much the same way as you would see a dentist regularly (even if you don’t have toothache), or service your car (even if it hasn’t broken down), you should be pro-active at looking after your body, rather than waiting for a problem to arise then treat it reactively.
We suggest a visit to your osteopath at least once every six months, for an “MOT”. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”, so act on these wise words and book yourself in for a check-up. At Back on Track Healthcare (near the Nelson Medical Practice on Kingston Road), we have a team of osteopaths, as well as offering physiotherapy, acupuncture, podiatry, sports massage, and counselling, so there is a local solution- just pick up the phone and contact our friendly reception team on 020 8545 0965 if you would like to book in, or you can make an appointment directly via our clinic website, by visiting www.backontrackhealthcare.co.uk.
If you do need to see a dentist and your six monthly check up is already overdue, why not visit our local friends at https://ridgwaydental.co.uk/ or https://infinitidentalclinic.com/ who will be happy to help you arrange a visit?