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Home office setup, made easy

Posted: 11am 17 Apr 2020

Have you suddenly found yourself working from home? You’re not alone.

Home is where the heart is. However, in light of recent social distancing measures, it’s now also the DIY office, study station, and even classroom.

While you may enjoy having fido at your feet and endless kitchen snacks within arm’s reach, it’s important that your office setup is ergonomic and suits your individual needs.

Director of Scarborough Physio and Health, Nick Schuster, offers some practical advice on how to correctly set up your work station, to help reduce stress on your back and neck.

He explains there are quite a few common mistakes that we are all making when it comes to current home setups and the pains they can cause.

The good news is, there are easy steps to fix this! (And they won’t break the back, er, we mean bank).

Step-by-step guide: the do’s and don’ts of setting up a workspace

  1. The first thing when setting up your workspace is to elevate your laptop (or desktop monitor) to the correct height. Bring your chair close to the desk, find your natural posture, and then line up the top of the screen to be level with your eyes. If you don’t have a monitor stand handy, get creative and use a ream of paper or another sturdy object from around the house
  2. By elevating the laptop and using the existing keyboard, you will cause yourself another injury by having your arms up at an unnatural angle. The remedy here is to purchase a cable or USB keyboard, which can sit on the desk directly in front of you. This will allow you to rest your forearms on the table, which is ideal, as it reduces the stress on your arms and shoulders
  3. Placement of the mouse is also important. Ensure your mouse is kept close to your body and at the side of the keyboard. Don’t let it slip too far forward on the desk or out to the side
  4. The final piece to the puzzle is finding the right seat height for you. If the seat is too low, people will compensate by sitting too far forward, which means the back isn’t supported and will get stiff. The hips should be higher than the knees, back braced, and seat pulled in close to the desk.

Follow these practical tips and you will be well on your way to a healthy and happy workspace.

As for resisting all the household snacks and leftover Easter eggs, you’re on your own there!

Smart study spaces for kids

Helping kids get set up at their desks can be a little different to organising an adult’s workspace, according to Scarborough Physio and Health.

While the desk, computer and hardware itself may look similar, it must be adjusted to the height of the child (i.e. ensure the top of the computer screen is at their eye level).

It’s also preferable for the child’s feet to reach the floor (rather than using a high stool at the kitchen bench) and sit with their back reasonably straight in the chair.

A dining chair here is fine (if an adjustable office chair is not available), as long as it isn’t used for long periods of time and is sat in correctly. If you are doing more than two hours of work at your desk each day, an adjustable chair is much more suitable

Finally, Mr Schuster pointed out that children’s back muscles aren’t as strong, which means they require more frequent movement.

“Kids don’t want to sit still for as long as adults, and it is natural they want to move around a bit more.”

Get moving!

Speaking of moving, now that you’ve got your desk, computer, and chair right, why not check out these simple stretches you can do at home to help reduce neck and back soreness.

Want more? If you would like more information and a FREE Cheat Sheet on how to set up your home workstation, email info@scarboroughphysiotherapy.com.au.

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