Many of us are now working from home and probably spending more time on the computer. I am finding with my patients an increase in lower back and neck pain due to poor chronic posturing. The majority of people do not have a great computer desk set up for work at home. There are a couple of quick things you can check to see if you can improve your at-home workstation (or couch, island, bed, or dining table).
When Using a Laptop
The struggle with laptops is their general set up. The keyboard is attached to the screen, which can cause tremendous postural stress. Working from laptops can lead to a couple of different scenarios:
- The screen is high for good visual viewing, but this also means your hands are up really high as well, and your shoulders are probably up to your ears. Working with a laptop in this way can cause wrist and hand pain along with neck and shoulder pain, which can lead to neurological symptoms down your arms.
- Another scenario is where you have the laptop on your lap for your hands to be down. When you work with your computer on your lap, you can cause significant stress in your head and neck when viewing the screen. Viewing the screen while it’s on your lap can lead to neck and shoulder pain, which can create neurological symptoms down your arms.
For these situations, you need to get an external keyboard and mouse along with a desk that you can adjust the height of (I will go into this shortly). With an external keyboard, mouse, and adjustable desk, you can have a much better neck, head, and hands postural alignment. When you get your new computer workstation all set up, your wrists should be below your elbows, and your elbows should be resting at your sides.
When Using a Dining Room Table or Kitchen Counter
Dining room tables and kitchen counters are usually too high or not high enough for you to work with proper posture. These surfaces are not adjustable and do not have a separate space for your keyboard and mouse.
The high-low desk for home! There is a large variety of adjustable height desks. They run the gamut for all budgets and sizes. I have seen some that are like a rolling cart. I’ve seen others that are a high-low tabletop platform. This tabletop platform can go on a low counter to raise your laptop while you are sitting or standing. Whichever one you get, make sure it has the keyboard and mouse tray. I encourage you to check out the different options to improve your computer workstation!
Working from a Couch, Bed, or Reclining Chair
The issue with working from a couch, bed, or reclining chair is that you won’t be able to have proper spinal alignment while you work. You’ll also be liable to fall asleep!
I suggest that you don’t work at a couch, bed, or on a reclining chair. Rather than working from these places, consider working from an adjustable office chair. If you do not have a good chair to use, try a dining chair that is low enough so your feet touch the ground. If your feet don’t touch the ground, place a stool or box under your feet. Use pillows and towel rolls to raise your bottom above your knees and put a towel roll between your lower back on the chair.
No matter what your working from home setup is, there is room for improvement! Making minor improvements in your workspace layout can help you achieve optimal ergonomics and posture. Whether it’s upgrading to a high-low desk or just moving your work station from the couch to the dining room table, these changes will have a lasting impact on your health and posture. If you’re still feeling stiff, make an appointment with us at Endurance and we can help you feel your best!