Home ergonomics can be a challenge, full stop. A good set up involves a peaceful space with good wifi, a desk, a decent chair and a few carefully chosen pieces of hardware to optimise your physical posture. Whatever your situation, there are a few simple rules to stick to. These rules are even more important to stick by if you have a sub optimal set up i.e. poor chair, no desk.
- Limit your sit time to 1 hour maximum slots. Get up and move for 10 minutes every hour. This is by far the most common piece of obvious advice that is most commonly ignored yet has the biggest benefit! Set a timer
- Consider breaking your working day up into 2 or 3 timeslots, leaving time to exercise and eat. e.g. work from 8am – 11am, exercise and eat between 11 & 1pm work again between 1 & 5pm. If you have a young family, can you work outside ‘normal’ 9-5 hours to allow for family to have more of a focus, if so, careful not to work after 9pm as you will need time to relax as well.
- DO NOT EAT AT YOUR DESK. You have the perfect opportunity to experiment with your work/eat/play routine. Make time away from your desk to discover when you are best to exercise, when do you actually feel hungry, concentrate and chew your food with no distractions (do your IBS symptoms improve by doing this?). Are you better motivated or have more energy for exercise at a certain time of day?
- Put a 1 litre bottle of water on your desk with a cup and finish the bottle by the end of your ‘working’ day.
- Check out my improvised desk set up on this blog entry to see what you may have lying around that could help you.
- the monitor is on a block to elevate it- in this case, a text book.
- the wireless keyboard is tilted – see note below on this.
- there is a bottle of water on the desk – stay hydrated!
- my mouse is on a magazine (I have no mouse mat, this works just fine)
- my chair has wheels, the arms on the chair lower so I can get close to the desk
- there is a foam roller under my desk (!)
- the chair is on a mat that helps me glide around easily over the carpet.
- ignore all the rest of the junk!
Let’s start with the monitor, the monitor needs to be elevated so that your eyes are in the top third of the screen. As you can see from the image, my monitor is propped up on a nice chunky text book. Grab whatever you can and don’t be afraid to stack them, so long as it is stable. This would be the same if you were using a laptop as a screen (with an external keyboard).
Additionally, my monitor is an arms reach away from me. This is important as it helps prevent you crowding over your screen or straining your eyes to see.
The keyboard, in the first image is balanced up against the textbook (I think I had been getting it out the way!) This is a sub optimal position as it can cause RSI by forcing your wrists into extension and overworking the forearm extensor muscles. Watch out for this.
The correct position for your keyboard is flat on the desk, you want nice relaxed fingers working over the keyboard, as below.
If you only have a laptop, please invest in a wireless keyboard & mouse. They are cheap to buy and will immediately improve your set up, allowing you to move your screen higher, the alternative is to buy an additional screen, this is both more costly and more likely to irritate your neck – during the adaption phase of remembering to look at the larger screen. Wireless allows you to maintain a neat, safe desk, put simply, it is tidier and tidy works best in an improvised home set up. (My mouse is wireless but was charging via USB in the first photo)
Footrest. I couldn’t touch the ground in my new set up and the nearest thing to me (especially as the spare room is now a dumping ground for all exercise equipment) was a foam roller. I now love it. I roll my feet as I work! This may not be a) necessary or b) comfortable for all of you.
What is necessary is that you can touch the ground with your feet. Do not rest your feet on the chair legs and try not to cross your legs or sit on your legs, these are all classic errors. All these alternative scenarios to having your feet in contact with the ground / a foot rest cause you to loose good posture in the chair. When you contact the ground, you engage your core muscles involuntarily, it also helps you to maintain contact with the chair through your shoulder blades – stopping you from tilting/leaning forward.As you can see, a foot rest can be anything that allows your knees to be at 90 degrees and your feet to rest on a stable surface.
The chair. The chair is very important and will determine, in a way, how long you can comfortably sit for. As you can see, I have a good office chair at home. It is highly adaptable, has a firm and comfortable backrest, the arms move up and down and it is on wheels. How you sit in the chair is as important. Have your chair set to about 100 degrees – mine has a slight tilt/bounce function that allows me to push back a further 10 degrees which is nice for mobility.
If however you only have a dining chair (see image left) pad it out to give you cushioning at your bottom, and at your back – supporting both your lumbar spine and mid back. Stick to the rule of getting up for 10 minutes after every hour, or for 5 minutes after every 30 minutes if you need.
I hope that goes some well to advising you on what you can do with your home set up. If you need further assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01275 750207, we are happy to help as much as we can.