Make your home office healthier

October 13, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

If you find yourself working from home or have children learning from home these days, you’re not alone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced remote learning for millions of students across the country and an estimated 40 to 60 percent of adults are doing some work from home.

A recent Gallup poll found that at least 1 in 4 U.S. workers now find themselves working entirely from home offices and that the number of days spent working from home has doubled for many Americans as a result of the pandemic.

If you find yourself among the people working from home or have children learning from home, Edward Elmhurst Health Rehab Services Lead and physical therapist Jay Sridhar, PT, offers a few tips for an ergonomic-friendly setup to help avoid aches and pains:

  • Chair. You’ll be sitting in front of that computer for longer stretches of time at home, so this is an important one. Be sure your chair has good lumbar support, adjustable height and adjustable armrests. Your chair should be set so your feet touch the ground with your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. For younger computer users, you may need to place a footstool by the chair so their feet can lay flat and not dangle from the chair. Consider back or seat cushions for your chair as well.
  • Computer screen. Make sure you are aligned properly with the screen. You should be an arm’s length away from the screen with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. If you work on a laptop, it helps to place something under your laptop or monitor to raise it up a bit so you’re not constantly looking down. If you are using a phone for work or school, make sure you are not constantly looking down at it. Try to have it set up where you can look straight ahead to avoid neck strain.
  • Desk or table. Your desk or table should be tall enough so you have clearance for your legs and knees. Adjust your chair height so your arms can rest comfortably on top of the table.  If you can afford to get a new desk for work or school, an adjustable sit-to-stand desk could be a good option. Standing helps take pressure off your spine and can help prevent strain on your back.
  • Keyboard. Keep your keyboard and mouse close by so you don’t have to stretch your arms too far for them. When using your keyboard, keep your wrists straight and your elbows slightly bent.
  • Take a break. If it feels like you’ve been sitting in front of the computer too long, chances are it’s true. Try taking a break every hour or so. Get up from your chair and take a quick walk. Or, for shorter breaks, stand up and do some jumping jacks or other quick exercises. While sitting in your chair, try some shoulder rolls to help correct your posture.
  • Give your eyes a break too. Staring at a screen can leave eyes feeling tired or dry. Give your eyes regular breaks every 20 minutes. Focus on a distant object to help your eye muscles relax.  Adjusting your computer settings — brightness, background color and font size — can also help make that time in front of the screen easier on your eyes. When you don’t have to be in front of a computer for work or school, try limiting your screen time — make a phone call instead of texting, read a book or play a board game instead of sitting in front of a screen playing a game or watching a TV show. Even better, head outdoors for some natural light.

Need a doctor? We have hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from. You can book your next appointment online today.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, your safety and well-being continue to remain our top priority. When you visit us, you will find consistent safety measures in place. Learn more about our Safety Commitment.

For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

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