How to injury proof your work-from-home setup

When working from home, or perhaps more accurately, living at work, it can be really easy to develop bad habits around posture, routine, and general wellness. We asked physiotherapist Jordan McCreary to outline how to lower your risk of injury. 

As the pandemic continues to keep a lot of us working from home and Zoom meetings keeping us glued to our desks/dining tables/kitchen benches for hours at a time, it’s really easy to develop some bad habits around posture, eye health, and overall wellness as without a daily commute, we’re more sedentary than ever.

Unfortunately, this arrangement of WFH and social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk of headaches, neck and back pain that can come with a less-than-optimal workstation.

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Create the optimal ergonomic workstation

Choose an adjustable chair that allows your feet to be flat on the ground, your keyboard to be at elbow height and resting at about a 90-degree angle (i.e. you’re not jammed up or reaching out to type) and your eyes to be level with the top third of your monitor.

It’s important to designate a specific part of your home to be your workstation, even if this is your dining table and ideally, not your bedroom.

Sit and stand, not either or

Make sure you have the ability to work both sitting down and standing up in the optimal ergonomic position, and alternate often. If you’re sitting or standing, the same ergonomic principles as above apply.

Be aware of your posture

Understanding how you should be working and starting in the right position is half the battle, but you have to constantly be aware of yourself and your posture throughout the workday.

Are your shoulders hunched or tensed up below your ears? They should be relaxed and low. Are you sitting up straight? Your lower back should be supported by the back of the chair, with your hips as far into the back of your seat as possible.

Use little reminders and your regular breaks to reset and set up correctly.

Stick to a routine and get moving regularly

Just like you did when you were in the office, stick to a regular schedule. This should include moving often, staying hydrated and eating regular meals, not sneaking snacks from the fridge.

More virtual meetings mean we are now sitting at our workstation for hours and not moving throughout the office, so be mindful of how long you are in the one spot and aim to move every 30 minutes, even if it’s just a few steps around the room.

Most internet browsers have free extensions for wellness and productivity that you can install, such as Eye Care, in which you can set a timer to remind yourself to step away from your screen, stretch, and move around.

What products can help me?

A desk or workstation that allows you to work both sitting and standing is your first priority, and there are a range of options, from the budget-friendly Esdesk, which can easily be set up on an existing table, to the more expensive sit-stand options.

If you are struggling to design your workstation and create the optimal setup, try one of our virtual ergonomic analysis sessions at Activate. These are run by our expert physiotherapists in a 30-minute online consultation.

Jordan McCreary is the founder and head physio at Activate Health Clinics and F45 Australia.