Many of us have found ourselves more sedentary bound than ever before and working from home due to the current circumstances. Our goal is to provide you with some simple strategies that you can easily implement into your workstation to help improve your comfortability, efficiency, and productivity.
Make a permanent workplace that is away from communal areas, this will provide you the privacy needed to help create a healthy balance between your work and social environment (family, relationships, social, etc). When considering a work area try and be mindful of light exposure (adequate lighting or natural light), adequate airflow and temperature (22-26degrees), noise control both internal and external and an area that is organised and clean.
This is often neglected but is really important we love those ’feel good’ environments so why not try to replicate that, especially if we’re spending 8 hours a day 5 days a week in this designated space. Instead of dreading to start work, create somewhere that makes you feel excited and is a positive environment that is going to promote creativity and productivity. This will differ for each person but once you’ve made the effort to create this space it will make a world of difference
Your home office may not be perfect but that’s ok, address the basic guidelines for workstation setup and implement some trial and error until you find what works best for you. There are plenty of options in achieving an optimal set-up that will be predetermined by your current work demands. Firstly, it is strongly encouraged to have a chair that is comfortable, adjustable for height and angle so that it can be modified as needed. Secondly, if you’re using a laptop, it would be beneficial to invest in a separate monitor or lift stand, keyboard, and mouse to allow you to achieve the recommendations shown in Figure 1, Figure 2, and Figure 3. Take the time to pay attention to your set-up and how it affects you physically and mentally as it will make a significant difference to your comfort levels and efficiency.
Any stationary posture for a prolonged period will more likely than not make you feel tight and sore which emphasises that lack of motion is the main issue, not the position or posture. When seated we have fewer degrees of free motion therefore, we tend to move far less in comparison to standing. This does not mean standing is better however naturally when we are standing, we tend to move more regularly by changing positions which helps to break up that lack of motion or sedentary behaviour. The goal is to move throughout your workday. This is an added benefit of having a sit-stand desk that makes it easy to change the height for your desk fairly undisrupted i.e. when your feet become tired or sore from standing you can easily lower the workstation to a seated position. An investment worth considering.
The body is designed to move and has an incredible ability to adapt to its environment. Interrupting long periods of sitting every hour to take a short break will improve overall energy levels, cognitive function, and focus. A general rule to break up an hour of work is to sit for 30-40 minutes, stand for 10-15 minutes, and to take a short walk or perform a short exercise routine for 5-10 minutes. Furthermore, every couple of hours take a long break to get away from the workstation completely, either for a lunch break or for daily exercise. For those that are little more stubborn try setting a timer for every hour to encourage you to get up and get moving.
Exercise breaks are fantastic! This will help to reduce those aches and pains that are associated with a workstation environment and can easily be implemented. By addressing muscles and joints that are normally stressed in a seated position, it can be beneficial to adopt mobility and strength exercises in the opposing direction. This can help to tolerate the demands of prolonged sitting and improve overall function and endurance. Although these types of movements aren’t exclusive for addressing postural pain but are a good guideline. Become mindful of how your body is feeling and take those regular breaks. It’s not only important for your physical health but also your mental health.
Take the time to revisit your working environment, implement changes that you can, be consistent with short breaks and listen to your body. If you have any questions or would like additional support your working environment, please get in touch. We may be limited with face-to-face appointments, however there is a lot we can provide via Telehealth appointments to assess your current situation. What happens outside of the clinic is just as important.
We encourage you to print the following document to place on your desk or wall as friendly reminder to break up your day with an exercise break. Download PFD by clicking here
Written by Osteopath Dr Larson Paulding