Strategies for upgrading your HOME OFFICE SET up
Many of us have now had to make an office space in our homes. Your ‘desk’ may be the couch or the kitchen table or possibly an actual desk. But whether you are new to working at home or you already had a home office, many of us are coming to realize that our home office set-up doesn’t really work as a full time work station.
Your home office set-ups have left us feeling a little out of whack. Things feel tight and cranky and you feel in dire need of a massage… but how does that even happen with social distancing?
Cue the grump monster.
Let’s look at some ways to adjust your home office set-up and how you’re sitting so that maybe we can send the grump monster away.
Where are you sitting?
First let’s look at where you’re sitting.
Is it the couch?
Is it sucking you in? Eating you?
Sometimes your couch or your living room chair, aren’t the best for long-term sitting. They might be ok for a short period, like an hour or two, but then you’ll probably want to move.
Generally, living room furniture is super soft and you sink into it and this sets your hips into deeper flexion. This puts your hip flexors in a very shortened position. After extended periods in this position, we have a recipe for cranky hip flexors.
The couch isn’t a totally no-go: short periods of sitting here will probably be ok for your body. But then you’ll probably want to move to a different seating arrangement. You could also try changing how you sit: try sitting cross-legged if that’s comfortable, or knees together and out to the side, like you’re a merperson.
There is a saying, and it’s been used by so many I am not sure who said it first, but the saying goes like this: the best position/posture is the next one.
You can sit or stand any way that feels comfortable…just not for too long.
Which is a great segue for the next idea:
Let’s look at how long you are sitting.
The number of hours you spend sitting may not have changed compared to when you used to go to the office, but the surface you’re sitting on has probably changed and that is going to have an effect on your body.
The best tip I can offer for helping to offset prolonged sitting is to set a timer to remind you to get up. Set a timer to go off the last five minutes of every hour. Get up and move for those five minutes.
Alternatively, you can try getting up and moving every 25 minutes for one to three minutes.
Another tip would to be get up and change what you’re sitting on and where you are sitting. This helps with the first tip–getting up and moving–and it gives your body variety by sitting on a different surface.
This might mean you sit on the couch for an hour, then sit at the kitchen table, then sit in your home office chair. You could also try sitting on the floor, your kitchen bar stool, or make your own improvised standing desk.
Just get up and change positions or change locations to give your body some variety.
**If your home computer is a desktop and not a laptop, maybe you could try out a few different seat options at your desk: You could try a chair from the kitchen or the living room or even one of those larger exercise balls.
If you are using a laptop, consider adjusting the height of the laptop. Try not to sit so that you’re looking down at it (like the people in the photos below). This will almost certainly lead to some upper back, shoulder and neck muscle tension or pain.
Ideally, you could position your laptop so that you can look at it straight on. This may mean stacking it on top of a few books or some yoga blocks on a table in front of you.
Setting the screen of your computer up so that you can look straight at it will help the neck, shoulders, upper back not feel as cranky.
**If your home computer is a desktop, you can also benefit from propping or elevating the monitor up higher. It will keep your head and neck in better alignment and it could be as simple as placing a few books underneath it.
Where your arms at?
What I mean by this is, where are your arms resting while typing? Are your arms supported by the thing you’re sitting on or is there some other support?
Office chairs generally have armrests that support the arms to help keep them in a good ergonomic position. The idea here is that, over time, the weight of your arms just hanging there can pull a lot on the shoulders. This supported position also helps to make sure the elbows and wrists don’t end up in a weird position that will strain either or both of them.
In the photo below, although I love my “standing desk”, it doesn’t work so well if I need to do a lot of typing because my wrists end up at an awkward angle and my elbows aren’t supported.
Finding a way to support your arms and wrist will help reduce shoulder and neck discomfort as well as wrist discomfort.
If you don’t have an arm support solution, the key becomes taking those periodic breaks and/or changes of position to give your shoulders a rest.
Finding ways to prop up your elbows and find a neutral wrist so that the hand and wrist line up will help to reduce the strain on the elbows and wrists.
In the photo below, I stacked my laptop on top of an exercise step to make a desk. I realize not everyone has an exercise step at their disposal, but this photo is mostly to show good alignment of the wrists and support of the elbows. Maybe you have something around your home that you can use…
Other ways to chase away the Grump Monster
Soft tissue work
Try some soft tissue work for those sore and tired muscles. Check out the videos below.
Foam roll upper back, lats, glutes, inner thighs, quads and hip flexors.
We hope that some or all of these tips will be helpful in reducing any tension you are feeling in your body that is coming from a less than optimal home office set-up.
We want to hear from you. Let us know if you have questions about any of the tips here or about anything else. Leave us a comment or shoot us an email.