4 healthy home office improvements you can make right nowPersonal health · Mar 1, 2021
With many of us still working from home, our "office spaces” can vary daily. But whether you’re working from an actual desk, the kitchen counter or the couch, it’s important to set up your work space to allow for proper posture and body alignment — and to avoid uncomfortable symptoms like back or neck pain, carpal tunnel and tennis elbow.
Here are four things you can do right now to improve your home office setup:
1) Optimize your standing desk or counter-top work space
Using a standing desk or standing at your kitchen counter are great ways to reduce sitting time and increase movement throughout the day. If this setup is working well for you:
Make sure that your wrists are positioned slightly lower than, or right in line with, your elbows. If your wrists are too far below your elbows, raise your keyboard or laptop up with books until you achieve the right height.
If the surface you stand on doesn’t have any cushioning, consider buying an anti-fatigue mat: it can provide additional support and reduce the leg discomfort you may experience after a long day on your feet. For even greater support, wear supportive shoes while working.
2) Fix your screen or monitor setup
Whether you’re working from a sitting or standing position, having your screen at the right height promotes good posture and helps to prevent neck strains. Here’s how to evaluate your setup:
Your screen should be directly in front of you and about an arm’s length away. When your neck is in a neutral position, your line of sight should fall at the top third of the screen.
If your monitor or laptop height is too low, try elevating it by putting a sturdy book or two underneath it. If you’re working from your couch, place a large book on your knees and rest your laptop on it.
3) Optimize your chair setup
It's important that your feet rest flat on the ground — no matter where you sit while working — and that your spine stays tall with your ribcage stacked on top of your hips. Maintaining this posture helps to prevent lower back and neck discomfort. To improve your chair setup:
Use a large book or yoga block to make up the space between your feet and the floor.
Place a small pillow or rolled up hand towel between your back and your seat to cue you to keep your ribcage stacked on top of your hips.
4) Establish a daily stretching routine.
Creating a short but effective daily stretching routine can help combat the stiffness and soreness you may experience as a result of sitting for much of the day. A good daily stretching routine to aim for includes:
Stretching your hip flexors, quadriceps, gluts, hamstrings and back for a minimum of 30 seconds per muscle group.
Repeating the series of stretches often throughout the day.
TELUS Health Care Centres’ kinesiologists are available for virtual or in-person consultations to help optimize your home office setup, establish a personalized daily stretching routine and more.