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Wellness Wednesday: at-home ergonomics

Posted at 7:49 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 09:49:32-05

IDAHO — We're coming up on the first anniversary of many people starting to work or learn from home, and while they may have found benefits to the new locale, they might have also noticed some not-so-beneficial parts to remote work.

Justin Jones, a Wellness & Safety Consultant with Regence, says there are some quick fixes to help your at-home ergonomics issues, starting with your actual workspace.

"Once we decided to work from home, I had a ping pong table downstairs, my wife had her office upstairs. The ping pong table was about 30 inches off the ground which is the desk height that we look for, has a lot of open space on it for my monitor and keyboard," says Jones, who also alternates with an upstairs countertop to be able to get some standing desk time during the day.

Jones says once your workspace is figured out, check your posture.

"We just want to make sure that our ears are over our shoulders and are over our hips. You start at the top and go down as far as ergonomics goes so if you have a desk that's about desk or workstation that's about 30 inches high and you have a chair, as long as those are in alignment, you should be pretty close."

Jones says to make sure your hips and knees are both sitting at around 90 degrees which may mean getting a box or footstool to raise your knees.

He also says part of setting up your workstation and sitting properly also means taking into account your monitor height.

"A lot of times we're looking down at our monitor instead of up. The top of your monitor screen should be eye level, which is important, about an arm's length away," explains Jones.

Staying comfortable while working isn't just about sitting, it's also about moving around.

"It's easy to get locked into your work, and pretty soon, you're sitting for about an hour, two hours at a time. They've done a lot of research on this topic and they've found the ideal work pattern is about every 30 minutes, we want to be sitting for 20, we want to be standing for about eight minutes, and then for two of those minutes, you want to be kind of up, active, maybe some light stretching. Throughout an eight-hour day, that gives us about five hours of sitting, two hours of standing, and about a half-hour of movement," says Jones.

When it comes to your children as they take on remote schooling, Jones says these tips can also be applied to their day, but remember, less screen time is better.

Another thing to watch--or feel for--is "tech neck." Jones says for about every 15 degrees your chin goes toward your chest, it adds about 15 pounds of strain on the muscles that support your neck.