Hi. I'm Michelle Duggan, senior physical therapist here at Saint Joseph Jessamine outpatient rehab. Thank you for joining us today for Let's Break to Educate. Our topic for today is home office ergonomics to prevent neck and back pain.
How to Set Up Your Home Office
First, I want to start off talking to you about your home office set-up. Now that this pandemic has been going on for some time; initially, we may have thought when we were setting up our home offices at the beginning of it that it was just going to be for a few weeks. So, it sounded like a good idea to be comfortable on the couch with our laptop or even in the recliner. Now, 18 months to two years later, we may very well still be sitting at the kitchen table for our desk, and my advice to you is try to get as similar a set-up at home as you had in the original office setting.
So, with that being said, you want to make sure that you have a good chair and desk to sit at. If you're having adequate lumbar support from your chair, your feet would comfortably rest on the floor, and then your hip and knees would be bent at 90 degrees. What's most important is that you make sure you sit back against your chair to get that adequate lumbar support. A lot of times, we tend to slouch, and that can give us that forward head posture that can lead to neck pain and headaches. So, I'll also recommend that your monitor be at eye level and your keyboard and mouse be easily within reach so that your forearms are resting comfortably on the table.
Try Making Your Home Workspace Versatile
Another alternative to the traditional desk are these new standing desks that are discussed by a lot of people. So, if your business is going to offer you the availability to set up your home office permanently, you could look into this versatile option because it allows you to transition from sitting to standing and perform your work duties. Also, some people will utilize a therapy ball as their chair. That can help you to engage your core muscles or your abdominals during your work session and allow you to give yourself more spinal support.
Take Breaks and Transition Frequently
So, with that being said, I also recommend that you take frequent breaks. For my patients who suffer from neck and back pain, I will recommend to them that they transition their position every 20 minutes. What that means is, if you're sitting, it's a good idea to change your position to maybe standing, or even walk to the kitchen and get a drink of water. If you're standing, you have a standing desk, sit down, transition to a different position so that you don't get fatigued, and then that leads to neck and back pain.
Check in on Your Mental Health
Now that we've discussed all of the physical ways you can support yourself with your home office, I would like to also discuss how you can take care of yourself mentally. I recommend that you have a designated work area where you can perform your work duties during work hours, but you need to be able to leave that area at the end of your workday. After work, it's even more important now that we be active. We're typically more sedentary at home now, working alone and having Zoom meetings that may last longer than those 20 to 30 minutes where you need to take a break. So after work, going for a walk, going to an exercise class with friends, or just spending time with your family or support system so that you're taking care of yourself mentally.
Thank you again for joining us today for Let's Break to Educate. I hope it was informative. If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to call our office or visit our website at www.CHISaintJosephHealth.org. Thank you.