More of us than ever are working from home because of COVID-19, and that means we need to make our home offices safe, healthy places to work. These tips can help you make inexpensive adjustments to your work space to stay productive and injury-free.

When you get into a car to drive it for the first time, what do you do? You adjust the seat so you can reach the pedals and see the road easily, as well as feel comfortable. You move the mirrors to make sure you have a clear line of sight behind you and to either side. Most cars let you change the headrest position and the seat belt height over your shoulder, too. These customizations make driving safer and more comfortable. When you work from home, it’s important to make similar adjustments.

If you’re new to working from home due to the novel coronavirus, you can set up your workspace to be safe and comfortable with a few ergonomic tips. Doing so reduces your chance of injury and increases your comfort, all of which helps you stay productive and focused.

Here’s how to stay comfortable and avoid back pain while you work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Change your posture often

It’s crucial that you vary your posture throughout the day, because sitting in the same position or chair all day can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain. For example, you might start your day at your kitchen table, then transition to a standing position or sit on your soft couch. It’s best to alternate every hour.

Put a pillow on your seat

Placing a thin pillow underneath your seat can go a long way to making an ordinary chair a lot more comfortable. If you don’t have a pillow, you could also fold up a fluffy towel for the same effect.

Put your feet up

Supporting your feet on an elevated surface, or stretching your legs long increases circulation.

Ideally, your hips and thighs should form 90-degree angles when you sit in your chair, but you can move your feet back and forth for exercise.

Add a rolled towel for lumbar support

If you’re someone who struggles with lower back pain, lumbar support pillows that rest on the back of your pelvis have been shown to increase comfort while seated. You don’t need to buy a fancy pillow to accomplish this effect you could roll a towel and place it between your chair and lower back.

Elevate your laptop

Laptops are never going to be ergonomically good, because the monitor is either going to be too low or the keyboard is going to be too high.

Ideally, the top of your monitor should be just below eye level, so you don’t have to strain your neck to read. If you’re working on a reading-intensive task, prop your laptop up on objects (like a stack of books or shoeboxes) so it’s eye-level. Then, when you need to type, you can lower it to a level that allows your arms to be bent at 90-degree angles.

Take breaks

Most people take breaks to walk around when they’re in the office, but when you’re at home “we have a tendency to just be focused,” so you might forget.

Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes to take a break for three to five minutes, . Get up and walk around, or do some quick stretches at your desk.

Movement improves circulation, comfort, and performance. It also decreases the risk of injuries.

If you want to buy a chair

If working from home stretches on and you want to invest the right office chair for your set-up, you should look for ones with adjustable features, such as seat height, back rest, arm rests and lumbar support. A chair that’s on wheels will allow you to move an appropriate distance away from your computer (make a fist and sit an arm-length away from your screen). 

The Right Equipment for Your Ergonomic Home Office

Here’s a summary of some of the equipment and tools that might help you customize your home office to be more ergonomic.

  • Laptop riser
  • External keyboard
  • External mouse
  • Cushions and pillows
  • Rolled-up towel
  • Orthopedic seat
  • Footrest
  • Voice dictation software
  • Microphone
  • Lamp

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