The world is changing and what many of us thought would be a couple months of quarantine has turned out to have no end in sight. Many organizations are asking their employees whether they want to continue to work from home and some have no clear direction of when they will be back in the office.
The most common thing we have been seeing in the office during this time is back injuries and other pain related to poor work ergonomics. Often you are forced to work from home at a dining room table or a poorly set up office. However, some of us do not even have the luxury of an office or dining room table due to small condo living or other reasons. Plus, many of us have voiced that our organization have offered nothing in terms of fixing the ergonomic situations in our home, thus making it less accessible due to cost and affordability.
It is no secret that the best ergonomic chairs and ergonomic sit-stand desks will run you a fortune. That is – if you have enough room in your bachelor condo or make-shift bedroom office. Or maybe you are worried about your new ergonomic chair getting clawed to pieces by Fluffy the kitten or splattered with paint from little Johnny’s new arts and crafts project from home-schooling. There are many factors playing into this new way of life, so here are some life hacks to help in the meantime until you have clarity.
If you remember one thing from this, it is that your chair is important to the health of your back.
THE DO NOT LIST:
- The Sofa, Ottoman, Loveseat, Armchair, Sectional or Rocking Chair: these are not meant for excessive hours of use while trying to type on a computer and multi-task. They are not supportive and are meant for lounging. Overuse of these for work will cause issues for you down the road.
- The Bed: you are not a student anymore, so please do not work from your bed. It puts unnecessary pressure on your back and does not offer you the ability to switch up your posture. There is no support and you are often looking down at your computer.
THE HACK LIST:
1: HACK YOUR CHAIR ERGONOMICS
THE BARSTOOL: You may only have an option to sit on a bar stool due to the size of your space and limited options. If this is the case, consider standing and sitting, alternating every 30 minutes. If you have the option to buy a stool with a back on it and some cushioning, this will save you a lot of problems down the road. Honestly, if you can just avoid this option, that would be much better. However, you can always consider a task chair in a bar stool style, which would be your best option.
THE DINNING ROOM CHAIR: The next option we are forced to use is the dining room chair. Minimally, we should sit on a cushion or pillow, with another pillow behind our lower back. If an ergonomic chair is not in the books right now, but you want more than the luxury of a feather pillow gracing your spine with its supportive presence, then you could also consider a back rest. This will at the help prevent you from ending up in a pretzel of discomfort. Check out the Health Medics Ergo Back Back rest that we carry in the clinic or you can find it online.
If you are going to splurge on a chair and you plan on sitting often, do not pick a cheap chair. You want something completely adjustable to fit your body. Everyone is different and your chair should be able to adapt to this. If you do not sit too often like your friendly neighbourhood chiropractor, then you can get away with a cheaper option. However, if you are in the chair all day long, try your best to pick a chair with:
- Supportive backing –to make your spine happy!
- Depth adjusting/Tilting –allows you to find new positions throughout your day!
- Adjustable height –plant those feet!
- Adjustable armrests –wrist and shoulder positioning are key to avoiding common workplace injuries like, carpal tunnel and shoulder strains!
- Headrest –because your neck needs a break sometimes too!
Now that you have some options for chairs, let us look at the desk.
2. HACK YOUR DESK ERGONOMICS
The Desk: many of us have a desk at home and this is great, but the functionality is a different story. You want a desk that is notgoing to put unnecessary strain on your shoulders and wrists, so ideally a desk with a spot for the mouse and keyboard at a lower height. This ensures that the shoulders, elbows and wrists are in a neutral position. Excessive reaching or bending of joints can lead to problems down the road. If this is not possible, consider lifting the height of your chair and placing something under your feet to keep them grounded, then raise the laptop or monitor.
The Sit-to-Stand Desk: instead of buying a desk, consider switching from your desk to your kitchen island or counter if possible, every 30 minutes to an hour. If you want to stay in your own space without moving, then consider buying an adjustable tabletop sit-to-stand desk like the one below:
If buying something is not an option and you do not have countertops at standing desk height, then consider improvising with a laundry or a storage bin/container on top of a table or desk. Elevate the monitor on some books then use the remaining space on the container for the mouse and keyboard.