COVID-19 Home Office Set Up with Osteopath Lauren

We are seeing so many of our patients from Williamstown, Newport, Kingsville and the entire inner west, presenting with shoulder and lower back pain due poor office sets ups.

The actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID, now mean that our usual working environments are very different to what we have been used to. The fact is that we simply do not have access to the same equipment or ideal ergonomic set up that most workplaces provide.

Osteoapth Lauren explores the best way to set up your home office to minimise your risk of pain and injury during this lockdaown period.

So what if I don’t have an actual desk?

Working at home at the moment can mean sharing makeshift workspaces with our partners, or even more recently our kids. This means that a lot of us simply don’t have access to a desk.

Luckily, all you really need is a flat surface. Ideally you will want something that you can slide a chair under. This may be your kitchen table, or if you want to create a standing desk you could go for something like your kitchen bench.

What we want to avoid is the temptation to use the couch or bed. While it may be comfy and cosy, our bodies will get cranky at us for doing this later on (we’ve all been there).

A lot of people at the moment are working from home due to the recent measures being taken against COVID 19.

While it is a great way to stop the spread, it now means that our usual working environments are very different to what we have been used to. The fact is that we simply do not have access to the same equipment or ideal ergonomic set up that most workplaces provide.

What if I only have a laptop?

Unless you have a home set up already, you may only have access to a laptop right now, which presents a unique challenge.

While laptops are great devices, they can be trouble for our bodies. Depending on how we use them, laptops can put a lot of pressure on the back of our neck and shoulders from looking down (and basically holding our heavy heads up against gravity). They also have pretty tiny keyboards and mouse pads.  There is not a huge amount of room for our forearms and shoulders to fit comfortably in that space and you can end up looking like a T-rex.

What height should my screen be?

What we want to avoid is the temptation to use the couch or bed. While it may be comfy and cosy, our bodies will get cranky at us for doing this later on (we’ve all been there).

You will want the top of the screen to sit either in line with, or just below your eye level. So build your stack of books up until you have this height. Your neck is thanking you already!

Pop your arm out in front of you and see if the screen is about the length of your arm away from you. This is the ideal distance.

How does that feel now?

So what if I don’t have a proper chair?

If you don’t have something height-adjustable then go for something sturdy. If the surface is hard, save your bottom some grief and get yourself a cushion to soften the landing. You can also create some support by putting a rolled towel or a cushion behind the curve of your low back. This should feel nice. Try your best to sit with your bottom snuggly into the back of the chair.

Where should my arms be placed?

Improving ergonomics is a wonderful strategy for prevention of musculoskeletal injuries and is something that doesn’t take long to achieve. So if you are feeling a bit lost with it all, let’s get to work!

Your arms should rest comfortably on the desk with your elbows at about a 90-degree angle. You may need to play around with adjusting your chair height to get this happening.

Remember that your shoulders should feel relaxed (not up near your ears) and your mouse and keyboard should be easily in reach.

Good stuff! Your forearms and shoulders say thank you.

What about my hips and foot position?

A lot of people at the moment are working from home due to the recent measures being taken against COVID 19.

While it is a great way to stop the spread, it now means that our usual working environments are very different to what we have been used to. The fact is that we simply do not have access to the same equipment or ideal ergonomic set up that most workplaces provide.

Similar to your elbows, your hips and low back with thank you if you can create a 90-110 degree angle with your hips.

In other words, you want your knees to be in line with your hips, or sitting just a little lower. You will also want your feet to be flat. If your feet sit on the floor, that’s great! If not, just grab a shoebox or something to make yourself a footrest.

Any other tips?

If the answer was never, then there is a fair chance that your new-found exuberance could end up with you laid out or as we like to call it suffering ‘post DIY syndrome’. Our experienced team of physio’s located in Melbourne have been helping patients with:

Remember most importantly that our bodies love movement. We would all be familiar with getting that achy pain in our shoulders or pins and needles in our legs when we have been sitting too long.  This is usually just our body getting cranky at us because we have been in one position too long. It is a demand to make a change, or in most instances, a nudge to get us to move. It’s pretty common for us to ignore these nudges or even get frustrated by them. Simply remind yourself to get up every 20-30 minutes to have a stretch and move about.

You will find this information again in the video below: