Working from home has become common place for many of us.
Unfortunately, without the right posture and habits, working from home can lead to physical discomfort, pains and aches.
This page provides osteopathic advice to help you work at home pain-free.
Prolonged poor sitting posture can contribute to daily aches and discomfort. Moreover, an inadequate working environment at home may expose you to stresses and strains that can cause you pain.
However, a commitment to making a few changes and developing good habits will help keep you healthy and productive.
If you experience sustained pains, aches or discomfort, your osteopath may be able to help with advice and treatment.
It is really important, when working at your desk, that you are mindful of your posture and that your equipment is correctly set-up.
Things to look out for:
- Your screen at eye level and directly in front of you
- If your monitor does not have height adjustment try elevating it with a riser, or even some old books!
- Keep your mouse close.
- It’s easy for your mouse to drift away from you when working, make sure you are not over-stretching to reach it.
- Keep your keyboard close.
- You should be able to sit up in your chair, have your elbows in an L-shape and still be able to reach your keyboard. If you are over-stretching to reach it, you will need to make adjustments (about 10cm from the front edge of the desk directly in front of you)
- Wrists should be straight rather than bent up or down or deviated.
- Adjust your chair.
- You should be able to sit right back into your chair, so your lower back is supported while still comfortably accessing your equipment.
- Your hips should be slightly higher than your knees. If your knees are higher than your hips you may need the desk raised in height.
- Feet to the floor.
- The height of your chair should allow your feet to easily reach flat to the floor. Use some form of riser if needed (footrest).
- Avoid crossing your legs. It can cause circulation problems and puts unnecessary strain through your lower back.
- Do not wedge the telephone between your ear and shoulder.
- If you are right handed, hold it in your left hand so you can make notes if necessary. Consider using a headset if being on the phone is a large part of your job.
Working on a laptop
The same rules apply and even more so if you don’t have the luxury of an adjustable chair or monitor.
- If you are mainly working off a laptop you may want to consider getting wireless keyboards and/or risers so you can optimise your work posture.
- Also consider where you work – your dining room table may be convenient but if of an incorrect height, extended working may cause shoulder, neck or back pain.
Working on the phone
If your work involves making lots of calls, avoid tucking handsets between your neck and shoulder.
Consider getting a headset so you are not battling with the handset, keeping your hands free and able to maintain a healthy posture.
Regularly re-set your posture
While you may start off in the correct position it can be very easy to drift into slouched position as your desk.
Try putting a sticker on your monitor as a reminder to re-set your posture every time you see it.
Take regular breaks
It is recommended that you should take a break from your desk every 30 minutes for at least one or two minutes. Try building in some of these good habits into your working day.
- Stand-up and move about for a few moments around your desk
- Use a break to get a drink of water, which also helps you keep hydrated.
- When taking a call, can you take the opportunity to stand-up rather than sit?
When to contact an osteopath
Hopefully, you can keep healthy working at home by introducing the above advice. However, if you do find yourself suffering from aches and pains such as back and neck ache, elbow or wrist pain, you should speak to your osteopath.
Osteopaths will be able to provide further advice on healthy working habits and stretches. If necessary, they can also provide treatment to get you back to work.
Getting the right kind of osteopathic support
If you are working from home for health and safety reasons, and do not wish to come into the Clinic, you can book a tele-health consultation. Tele-health consultations are short telephone or video appointments, through which you can receive osteopathic support from the comfort of your own home. You can find out more about our tele-health consultations by scrolling to the bottom of our ‘What do we treat’ page, and our ‘Treatments & Prices’ page.
If you do not live in the South Buckinghamshire area, you can find other osteopaths near you on the Institute of Osteopathy ‘Find an Osteopath’ page.