COVID-19 (coronavirus) has impacted our lives in many ways, not least of all our working environments. With many people working from home during lockdown for this global pandemic, it is important that we consider another aspect of our health – our spine & posture – and ensure we are setting ourselves up as ergonomically as possible to get through these trying times.
What does an ideal ergonomic computer set up look like?
- The top of your monitor should be at eye level or slightly below;
- Your desk/keyboard should be positioned so that your arms are relaxed by your sides, elbows bent to 90 degrees, wrists straight and fingers relaxed;
- Upper back should be straight with shoulders relaxed and head and neck sitting in line with the shoulders;
- The backrest of your chair should support the curves of your lower back;
- Hips should be as far back on the chair as possible;
- Knees should be positioned at a 90 to 110 degree angle;
- Feet need to be flat on the ground or resting on a foot rest; and
- The chair you’re sitting on needs to be adjustable to allow for all of the above.
- If using a standing desk, the alignment of your monitor and keyboard need to be consistent with the above recommendations. Also ensure you are distributing your weight through both feet equally, that is, don’t shift your weight from one leg to the other.
Stretches for spinal health to perform at your desk
- Interlock your fingers and raise your arms above your head, pushing your palms up towards the ceiling.
- Sit up really straight in your chair and as you lift up, gently twist your body towards your right side, using your left arm to press against your right knee, and hold. Repeat on the other side.
- Tuck your chin in and gently curl your neck to look down, then slowly lift your head and chin up to look to the ceiling, and repeat once more.
- Gently turn your head left and right, as if slowly shaking your head to say “no”.
- Tilt your head to the side to bring your left ear down to your left shoulder, then slowly tilt your head the other way to bring your right ear to your right shoulder. To increase this stretch slightly, bring your hand that’s on the opposite side your head is tilted to under your seat and lean your whole body slightly away from that arm. Repeat on the other side.
- Bring your arms out to form a T-shape with your palms facing up and gently draw your arms backwards, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Other tips while working from home
- Set a timer on your computer or phone to go off every 30 minutes, to stand up for a quick stretch, or at least to readjust your posture.
- When taking work calls, stand up and pace around the room to get in extra steps.
- Drink water from a glass instead of a bottle, so that every time it empties, you need to stand up and walk to the kitchen for a refill.