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TIPS FROM THE TRAINER: Are you ergonomic savvy?

TIPS FROM THE TRAINER: Are you ergonomic savvy?

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Have you found yourself slouching more while working from home? Have you started having more back or neck pain since you started working from home?

This could be due to poor posture when sitting and working at the computer. While typical offices are designed to be ergonomically friendly, many of us who have found ourselves unexpectedly working from home on laptops and tablets, do not have these luxuries.

So, what is considered “good” sitting posture? Ergonomic and posture experts say that the ideal posture is one in which your body can sit for an extended period of time while remaining at ease.

Another term for this is a neutral posture. In this position, your body can maintain good spinal alignment and support all the natural curves of the spine with minimal effort. Trying to sit with a neutral posture as often as possible has many benefits, including:

Keeps your joints in the correct position so that your muscles do not have to work in ways they were not made to work.

Reduces the wear and tear on your joints.

Decreases the strain on ligaments in all levels of your spine.

Allows your muscles to work more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy and not fatigue as quickly.

● Prevents back and muscles pain.

When sitting at a desk and/or computer, this neutral posture is achieved when your computer, desk and chair are set up in the following way:

1. Computer monitor is roughly one arm’s length distance from your face and is at eye level so that you do not have to hold your neck in a hyperextended or hyperflexed position.

2. Wrists are straight and hands are at or below elbow level.

3. Chair is adjusted so that your knees are level with your hips and your feet are flat on the floor.

4. Lower back is supported by the back of the chair or by a pillow.

5. Everything you need is within reach so that you do not have to strain your spine by overreaching.

While this position is relatively easy to achieve in an office with desk chairs with adjustable heights and moveable arms and keyboards that are separate from the computer monitors, getting this set up at home can be expensive, and typical home furniture is not designed with these needs in mind. Dining room chairs are not adjustable and provide little lumbar support. Laptops and tablets force you to choose between having the screen at the appropriate height or the keyboard in the appropriate position.

Laying on the couch while working may sound like a comfy alternative, but this position also puts unneeded strain on your wrists, arms, neck and low back. To avoid these issues, here are some tips to improve your work-from-home set up and make it more comfortable if you are not ready to invest in a new home office set-up.

Pillows are your best friends. They can be sat on to make an un-adjustable chair higher. You can place one behind your back for additional lumbar support. Or you can place one under your feet to help achieve a “feet flat on the floor” position.

Place a small, rolled up towel under your forearms for padding and to help keep them level with your wrists.

Use a separate keyboard for your laptop or tablet if possible.

Elevate the screen of your computer using books, newspapers or a box so that it is at eye level.

Get up and move around the house occasionally, especially when you start to feel uncomfortable — listen to your body. If you start to notice back or neck discomfort, that probably means you are placing too much stress on them and it is time to give them a break.

As the state begins to open back up, many businesses will start to return to normal. If you find yourself one of those still working from home, make sure you are using proper ergonomics to keep your body pain-free.


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