The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how people work in the United States and across the globe. Millions of people started working from home and will most likely continue this setup as part of the new normal.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in October 2020 revealed that about 71 percent of employed adults were working from home. Fifty-four percent of this population would want to continue working from home even when the pandemic is over.
If you have been working from home (WFH), you may have noticed some pain here and there that you did not experience while working in the office. You are not alone. A survey of people working from home revealed that 41 percent experience lower back pain, and roughly 24 percent suffer from neck pain.
As experts put it, the ongoing pandemic is a perfect storm for back problems, with people hesitant to consult doctors or physical therapists about their problems. However, simple measures can be taken to improve your WFH setup. One such measure is to constantly remind ourselves how to sit properly.
Why Does My Back Hurt and What Can I Do to Maintain Good Posture?
Many people working from home are not functioning in an ideal office environment. While businesses are required by law to provide a setup that promotes proper ergonomics in the workplace, the same isn’t true when you work from home.
People who work from home stick to their existing setup and are reluctant to invest in ergonomic office equipment. Most end up doing their work on a regular table, in a lounge chair, or on a kitchen countertop. In the process, you might end up in awkward postures that will eventually cause neck strain, soreness of the shoulder, and lower back pain, among other musculoskeletal issues.
Good posture is essential to prevent neck pain, lower back pain, and other injuries. Fortunately, you can develop good posture by reminding yourself about the proper sitting position.
Here are some quick reminders on how to sit, how to maintain good posture, and how to correctly set up your workstation at home:
1. Maintain a Neutral Spine
The key to a pain-free back is maintaining a neutral posture. This means you need to maintain the natural curves of your spine – no over-flexing or overarching – to keep it in balance.
When sitting, keep your head in line with your shoulder with your chin slightly tucked in. Your shoulders should be relaxed and not hunched. Make sure you sit back in your chair and have enough support for your lower back. Avoid leaning forward, as this puts extra pressure on your spinal column. Your hips should be even and your knees should be pointing straight ahead. Your feet should settle on the floor, or on a footrest.
2. Put Your Computer Screen at a Comfortable Height, with Important Items Within Reach
You should place your computer screen such that you can view it with a straight neck or approximately at eye level. Sit at an arm’s length from your screen and adjust it to minimize glare from indoor lights or windows.
It will also help if you place your phone and other office items you often use within easy reach. Use a document holder if you need to go back and forth between your screen and reading materials.
3. Place Your Keyboard and Mouse at Elbow Height
Your keyboard and mouse should ideally be at the level of your elbows and straight forearms. This will ensure that your shoulders are relaxed. Your arms should be at your side, an optimal position to avoid impinging nerves from your neck and shoulder that run down your elbow and wrist.
Adjust the keyboard so that the section you use most frequently is centered with your body. Use palm support properly by resting the base of your palm on the keyboard palm support. Many times, people rest their wrist directly on the cushioned area. Using improperly puts additional pressure on the nerves in your wrist, which may increase symptoms that are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. Standing Desk, Working on Bed, and Other Setups
If you love standing while working, you also have to remind yourself that your spine should be following its natural curves. You can rest one foot on a stool to lower the stress on your back. There are footrests specifically designed for those who work while standing or prefer to use standing desks.
In case you often work on your bed, you need to make significant adjustments to ensure you have an optimal view of your screen by placing your laptop on your lap, or using a table next to your bed. You also need to ensure that your back is adequately supported while keeping proper alignment of your spine and joints in mind, to avoid unnecessary strain.
For those working on kitchen countertops or in other areas of the house, you have to be extra mindful of your posture. Awkward positions will stress your spine, cause muscle fatigue, and eventually result in pain.
5 Ergonomic Support Devices to Improve Your WFH Experience
If you foresee yourself or your employees working from home during and after the pandemic, Kensington has a wide range of solutions that can help you avoid lower back pain and maintain good posture.
These ergonomic devices were designed following the best practices in human factors engineering to keep people productive, efficient, and pain-free while working from home.
1. SmartFit® Conform™ Back Rest
The SmartFit Conform Back Rest can save you hundreds of dollars as opposed to buying an expensive office chair. It is a perfect addition to your dining room chair at home, or your home office chair that needs a lumbar support boost.
You can easily adjust the height of the back rest to find the most comfortable position for you while working. It has four springs that help it conform to your body and react to the slightest adjustments you make while you sit at your desk.
2. Rocking Foot Rest
Sitting for long hours is detrimental to your health. Aside from the need to stand up and walk around from time to time, rocking your feet can help improve your metabolic rate.
The Rocking Foot Rest by Kensington has a low profile and will help you maintain proper posture while standing or sitting. It can also help you to keep your feet moving through the day. Its swivel bar aids with circulation and helps relieve pressure.
3. Premium Cool-Gel Seat Cushion
If your working table is higher than usual, or if you’re working at the dining room table, the Premium Cool-Gel Seat Cushion is a perfect booster seat. It provides maximum comfort through cooling fabric and internal gel.
Aside from promoting good posture, the cushion is engineered to help reduce the discomfort and fatigue that you might experience while working from home. Aside from providing optimal support, this seat cushion alleviates the pressure on your spinal column by minimizing contact between the seat cushion and your tailbone.
4. Kensington® SoleMate™ Comfort Footrest with SmartFit® System
The SoleMate Comfort Footrest is another ergonomic device that can set you up for success. It helps eliminate the pressure points on your feet and lower the strain on your legs and back, while it promotes movement and proper posture.
The memory foam pad offers a luxurious resting spot for your tired feet. You can easily adjust its height and angle for maximum comfort.
5. Ergonomic Memory Foam Seat Cushion
The Ergonomic Memory Foam Seat Cushion is great for raising you up to a higher position, improving circulation, and providing excellent support for your lower back and hips.
This product uses premium high-density foam that has been proven to maintain its thickness and keep its shape intact. In short, it’s ready to be used and abused by people working from home.
Visit the Kensington Wellness Solutions Finder Today
Find the ergonomic solutions that best fit your needs. Kensington has a comprehensive line of products and solutions to help you be more productive and efficient at work – be it in the office or at home.
Visit our Wellness Solutions Finder today for personalized recommendations to configure your space.