Earlier this week, a friend and I were commiserating about our low-back pain. We’re both in our mid-40s and we met at the gym, so we’re both active and no strangers to muscle soreness. We also go to the same yoga class, so we have a regular stretching regimen to assist with tight muscles. The other thing we have in common? We both sit in our home offices for a large portion of the day, at makeshift desks with ill-fitting chairs…and that, we determined, is the heart of our back pain problems.
When Covid started and people began working in newly created home offices, many people cobbled together workspaces wherever they could…people did everything from taking a zoom call from their closet to setting up shop at the dining room table. As Covid dragged on, people began to invest in some office staples – according to the website statista.com, sales of office chairs rose 74.8% in 2020, an increase fueled by the pandemic, and desk sales rose 62.8%. In many cases, however, the damage was already done – months of sitting hunched over a laptop on a soft couch or at an ill-fitting desk caused overuse injuries that still plague many office workers. According to a survey from the American Chiropractic Association, 92 percent of chiropractors said that patients reported more neck pain, back pain, or other musculoskeletal issues during Covid.
If you didn’t invest in your office space during Covid, it’s not too late! While it’s true that most people are venturing back out into the world and we aren’t stuck at home like we were at the beginning of Covid, your body could still benefit from the proper equipment and good form while you’re at work. A marathon runner wouldn’t run a race well without a solid pair of shoes and good running form, just like most people can’t do their jobs nearly as well when they are uncomfortable at best, and in pain at worst. If you decide to upgrade your office set-up – or even if you just modify what you have – here are some tips to maintain good ergonomics in your home workspace:
- When you’re sitting at your chair, try to keep a neutral posture: your back is straight, hips are slightly higher than your knees, neck is relaxed, and feet are resting on the ground.
- The top of your desk should allow your elbows to bend at a 100-degree angle.
- When at your desk, your elbows should be in line with your ears and hips.
- Your computer monitor should be an arm’s length away from you and your eyes should be aligned at the top of your monitor.
- Keep your neck straight when looking at your monitor and don’t lean your neck forward to look at your screen.