life

How to create an at-home office space that's good for your body

A chiropractor shares her tips.
April 23, 2020 1:29 p.m. EST
May 22, 2020 3:07 p.m. EST
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Many of us have been working from home for weeks now. As the thrill of wearing pyjamas to "the office" wears off, the aches and pains of sitting at your makeshift workspace might be kicking in. Luckily, chiropractor Sapna Sriram has easy tips to create a home office space that keeps our bodies feeling good.

TAKE YOUR WORK SPACE SERIOUSLY

Even if this is temporary, the reality is that whether we are in this for a few more weeks or a few more months, that is significant for most people who don’t have proper work from home setups. There are a lot of negative implications if we ignore this: physically, it places a lot of added stresses and pressure on our neck, shoulders and low back. It can also increase and amplify headaches, migraines and even jaw pain (clenching from stress). Improper setups can also be a major eye strain trigger.Mentally, a lot of people need to be at work for that work-life balance, and the reality now is that most people don’t live in huge homes with massive work spaces, so their work life is bleeding into their personal life and vice versa, and we know that mental pressure and mental stress amplifies physical stress.

USE THE 80-20 RULE

Figure out what your routine is in a typical work day. And whatever 80 per cent of your time is focused on, that is where you should also focus the most in terms of proper setup. For example, if you’re on phone calls all day, get a head set. It is so bad for your neck and spine to use a phone without a headset. There are no ways around this. So often people just say, "I fixed my chair so I’m all good", but it’s about task prioritization and fixing what’s important for you.[video_embed id='1924820']These three things will make working from home a breeze[/video_embed]

KEEP THESE RED FLAGS IN MIND

There are three major red flags:
  1. Monitor Distance: People don’t think about monitor distance and often have the screen right in front of their face, which is too close. If you put your arm out, your finger should comfortably touch the monitor. If you’re too far, bring it closer. If too close, it’s bad for eye strain.
  2. Monitor Height: Your screen should be sitting right above your eyebrows, mid-way between your hair line and eyebrows. Some people use multiple monitors that are all at different heights. It’s crucial that if you’re working from multiple monitors that they are all at equal heights. Also, prioritize the monitor you use most – that should be the one in front of you.
  3. Elbow Angle: It has to be 90 degrees. Most people are working with less than 90 degrees (they’re leaning too far forward or their keyboard is too far away from them, or just not at the proper height). This is a big one. A lot of people also cheat with this, thinking they’re at 90 degrees but their wrists are not neutral or their shoulders are up to their ears.
[video_embed id='1904107']BEFORE YOU GO: Posture-perfect sleep positions that are right for your body[/video_embed]

ELEVATE YOUR SPACE

If your table is too low and you’re trying to get the right monitor height, you can use boxes or yoga blocks to give it some height. For people using laptops right now, Sapna definitely suggests getting an external keyboard, if possible. Keyboards are cheap, and this will allow you to get your monitor to a proper height while keeping your elbow angles at 90 degrees with your keyboard on the table.Sapna also suggests using these boxes/yoga blocks/a recycling bin as foot rests. If you can’t get that 90 degree bend, or if you have back pain, it feels nice to have your feet elevated. You can also just elevate one foot at a time, which takes pressure off of your body and gives your body variance too. Try to mix it up as much as possible.Another great hack Sapna suggests is to grab a towel, roll it up and place it at the low of your back. This provides great lumbar support. You can also use a large water bottle for the same trick.

CHANGE IT UP

Sapna says you use the 20-20-20 rule. So every 20 minutes, try to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Within that hack, you should also try a different position. If you were sitting, try standing for a bit. If you can’t do that every 20 minutes, maybe try every other 20 minutes. This is also a great time to do a quick posture reset.

KEEP YOUR POSTURE IN CHECK

If you have your upper-back resting on your chair, without your neck having to tilt forward, you’re doing good. If you’re sitting at a chair, and you have to crane your neck forward, then you need to add some back support there. Do posture resets throughout the day. Watch the video at the top of this article for some of Sapna's recommended stretches![video_embed id='1962345']BEFORE YOU GO: This lemon squeezing hack is going viral (and it actually works)[/video_embed]

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