Many people have transitioned to working from home, or hybrid, where they spend at least one or two days working from their own home office or personal workspaces. It’s important to ensure that your home office is ergonomically friendly, just as the traditional office space was. Making this a priority for yourself will protect your neck and back, which if not taken seriously can cause chronic issues in the future and make everyday life uncomfortable.
There are three key parts of your body you will want to be mindful of to protect you from neck or back pain – your head, arms, and back.
Position Your Head Correctly
The average weight of an adult head is 10-12 pounds – roughly the weight of the average bowling ball. If your computer monitor is positioned lower than your normal line of sight, this can cause you to lean your head forward and put extra stress on your spine.
To prevent this, do your best to keep your head in neutral position with your ears positioned directly over your shoulders. Use a monitor stand to help raise your screen to help keep your head in this neutral position while working.
Be Mindful of Your Arms
You’ll also want to be mindful of your resting arm position. If you use a laptop or a keyboard, sometimes you may have the keys high up, causing your arms to rest in an unnatural position.
When sitting or standing, the best position for your arms is at a 90-degree angle, where your shoulders are down at a resting position and your elbows are bent with your wrists staying neutral. Consider using an adjustable keyboard and mouse tray to adjust the height of both your keyboard and mouse to maintain the 90-degree position of your arms.
Protect Your Back
If you are sitting for hours at a time at your desk, the proper sitting position is very important. Hunching over your desk or putting your back in off center positions can strain your back muscles and cause chronic back pain. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to buy an ergonomically friendly office chair, but there are also ways to maintain an optimal seating position if you don’t have the means to purchase one yourself.
To make sure you are seated properly, first find an upright chair with a back to it that is best suited to your needs. Once seated, place something on the back of the seat (a pillow or rolled up towel) to support your lower back. After this, make sure your feet are flat on the floor while seating. If not, place a footrest or box underneath your feet to make this possible.
What Else Can You Do to Protect Your Neck and Back?
After you have taken these three steps to optimize your workspace, take breaks from your work and move around. Your body’s joints are made to lubricate themselves while you move, so it is important to take the breaks recommended to you by your employer to prevent them from stiffening up.
If you do end up having back or neck issues, our MemorialCare Spine Health Center offers a variety of treatment options to address your pain.