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Working from home: tips from an Osteopath

With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, many people now find themselves having to work from home. For some, this may have been an easy transition, but for many people it is proving to be quite challenging.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a perfect ergonomic set up ready for them at home. Many people are having to set up their ‘office’ on the kitchen or dining table, or couped up in their bedroom. As a result, we are starting to see an increase in work-related aches and pains.

Here are a few of our tips to help you improve your desk set up, avoid injuries and pain, and be more productive at home:

  • Ergonomic workstation set up

Considering you may be spending up to 8 or 9 hours a day at your desk, it is super important to make sure you have an optimal workstation set up. Here are 6 key focuses for setting up your desk:

  1. Back rest should be slightly reclined to about 10-20 degrees. If you’re lucky enough to have an adjustable desk chair, great! If not, you may need to use pillows or towels behind your back to get the angle right.

  2. Try and pick a chair that supports your whole spine, avoid chairs with a short backrest if possible.

  3. Forearms should be parallel with the desk height. If you’re unable to adjust your desk or chair height, you may need to sit on some pillows to achieve this one.

  4. Distance to the screen should be approximately one arm’s length. This is easy if you’ve got a monitor, but if using a laptop it may be a good idea to get a separate mouse and keyboard so you can move your screen arm’s length away and elevate it to the right height.

  5. The top third of your screen should be roughly at eyelevel. If you need to elevate your screen try using things that you already have in the house, like books or boxes.

  6. Thighs should be parallel to the floor with the knees at right angles and feet supported. Books can come in handy again here if you need a foot rest to get into this position.

  • Movement is medicine

If you are finding that things are getting very tight and achy since being in isolation, try incorporating more movement into your day. This may mean going for a walk around the block during your lunch break. Or doing some gentle stretches and mobility exercises throughout the day.

Even with the perfect desk set up, sitting in a chair for hours on end is likely to cause pain at some point- try setting a reminder every 30 minutes to get up and move, even if it’s just a trip to the fridge or the toilet.

When it hits 5pm and your work is done for the day, avoid moving straight from the desk chair onto the couch (I know it’s tempting). Try getting in a little workout, or some yoga, or a walk, or basically whatever form of movement you enjoy!

  • Stress management

This is a very stressful time for everyone, and stress has a number of negative impacts on our mind and our body. Now more than ever, it is important to take the time to manage your stress and look after your mental health. Stress relief looks different for everyone- maybe it’s a sweaty workout, or a gentle walk, or listening to music, or taking a long bath. Whatever it is, find what works for you, and make it a priority in your day. Our tips for relieving stress are:

- Getting a good night sleep (aim for 7-8 hours)

- Exercise regularly (find a form of exercise you actually enjoy)

- Get outside at least once a day

- Give mediation, breathing exercises, or yoga a try

Stress often amps up our body’s pain signals, so if you’re experiencing more pain than normal during this time, try using some of these strategies to reduce stress levels.

Hopefully some of these tips help to make working from home a little more comfortable. But, if you are struggling with any aches and pains and need some advice please give us a call, we’d be happy to help!

- Samantha Shelley


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