How to set up an ergonomic workspace at home

We know that many of our clients have recently relocated their workspace to their homes in response to the corona virus pandemic and we want to make sure that you are not at risk of causing pain or injury due to having a poorly set up work space! Here is a great little snap shot for you to review your work space set up to minimise your risk of injury written by our osteopath Emily.

Common complaints we see in relation to poor workspace set up include:

  • headaches and neck pain
  • soreness in shoulders and upper traps
  • sore lower back
  • tennis elbow
  • wrist pain
  • numbness in the legs

Desk Setup

The height of your desk should allow your elbows to sit comfortably at a 90 degree bend when you put your hands on the mouse or keyboard. Adjust your chair height as needed and don’t forget this rule when you adjust your chair in the next step.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a sitting or a standing desk, the same rules still apply.

Imagine your desk consists of 3 zones: primary, secondary and tertiary

Primary work zone: this is for all the items you use frequently during your day. You should be able to reach these comfortably when sitting fully back in your chair with elbows relaxed and by your sides. ie keyboard, mouse and a pen.

Secondary work zone: this zone is for your less frequently used items and you should be able to reach them with your back against the backrest with arms extended. Ie phone (if not used frequently) or drink bottle.

Tertiary zone: things you don’t require during your daily work activities ie personal belongings or rarely used stationary.

Other tips:

  • Keep your keyboard in line with your monitor
  • Reference documents can be placed between the keyboard and monitor with a document holder

Chair setup

The more adjustable features the better, look for adjustable seat height and base depth, backrest height and angle, adjustable or removable armrests, ideally 5 legs for stability.

Tips:

  • You should have a 2-4 finger space between where you seat ends to the back of your knee
  • Ensure your seat base is wider than the width of your legs
  • You should feel supported through your low back and the height of your chair should sit between your shoulder blades
  • Back should be slightly reclined to provide a relaxed but supported position
  • Height should be adjusted so that hip is slightly higher than your knees
  • If you have armrests ensure they are adjusted so that your forearms can rest comfortably on top with your shoulders relaxed.
    • Remove your arm rests (if you can) if they are impacting you from sitting in an appropriate posture or hinder your use of the mouse and keyboard.
  • Your feet should be flat on the ground, if after setting up your chair to your desk your feet are not supported then a footrest may be required.

Monitor Setup

Tips:

  • Ensure the top of your monitor is in line with your eyes.
    • You may need to use a monitor stand or some books to place underneath your screen
  • Make sure your monitor is an arm’s length away
  • Adjust your monitors brightness and font size so you can comfortably view the screen and read any text that is required when sitting up straight with your back supported on the chair
  • Try and set up your workspace so that you avoid unnecessary glare or reflections on your screen from other light source

What if I have two screens?
This completely depends on how much your use each screen.

If it’s a 50:50 split

  • If you use both monitors equally then place them directly next to each other in your midline. Use the same rules above for the monitor set up.

Anything other than 50:50

  • Place your primary monitor closer to directly in front of you and your secondary monitor to the side ensuring they’re the same size and height. It doesn’t matter which side, you can see what feels more comfortable for you.
  • Be sure to use your chair and twist your whole body when looking at your second monitor so as to protect your neck.

Laptop set up

Laptops can be challenging to maintain a good working posture with prolonged use.

Our main recommendations here are:

  • The above suggestions still apply!
  • Use an external full sized keyboard and mouse to allow for more flexibility
  • Use a docking station or stand to ensure you can customise the screen height

Do I need to buy expensive equipment or products?

You wont usually need to invest in fancy products. You just need to think outside the box a little!

Examples:

  • Foot rest – reams of paper, shoe box
  • Laptop stand – text book, cans of beans (make sure the height is correct!)

Keep in mind though that some things are worth the investment! For example a quality and supportive chair really is worth the money, just ask our owner and osteopath Mirae! Her family’s business is office chairs and sit-to-stand desks (Stateline Furniture Sales). We all sit on chairs from the family business in our treatment rooms. We also have of the Vertilift sit-to-stand desks as our reception desk. I’m sure she would be able to hook you up with her family if you need anything.

The other times you might need to purchase something is in relation to a chronic . injury . that is continuously flared up by your work. For example, sometimes people will chronic tennis elbow will need to buy a vertical mouse or an elbow support. These sorts of products are something your osteopath can recommend if it is required.

What if I need some help?

Your osteopath is always here to help!

You can always shoot your osteopath a quick email if you have a simple question.

OR …

We are currently offering a Telehealth Online Consult specifically tailored to help people set up their home workspace.

The Telehealth Ergonomic assessment will involve scheduling a time with your osteopath of choice and via video link showing them your set up so they can make some adjustments and give advice as needed. If you have any areas of pain or discomfort with your current set up then please mention this during the online consult. These assessments will take approximately 10-15 minutes and will be charged at $25.

To book one of these consults you can call the clinic on 03 8790 0136, or you can jump on our website anytime or you can click the book now button. Make sure you book the one called “Ergonomic Telehealth Assessment”.