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Feeling a niggle in the back after a long day sitting at the desk? Have a stiff neck after several hours gazing at the computer? Complaints of joint soreness and muscle aches amongst our growing population of individuals working from home are increasing.

With working from home being so common these days, it is more important than ever that we understand how to do so without sacrificing our health.

Despite the comfort and convenience of working from the bed, the couch, the hammock, you name it, when spending prolonged hours sitting in one place, it is crucial that the set-up is appropriate to avoid unwanted strain through joints and muscles.

Some of the following tips can come in handy to ensure your workspace is set up well:

  1. Save the couch and bed for 'out of office' time and set yourself up at a proper work desk

  2. Use a desk chair that can be adjusted to suit your individual needs

  3. When sitting, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees, with your feet flat on the floor

  4. Your eyes should be level with the browser bar when looking directly at your computer

  5. Your elbows should naturally fall in line with your desk

  6. Try alternating between standing and sitting with a stand-up desk

When working from home, we are unlikely to get anywhere near as many steps in compared with working at an office. At work, we'd be walking across the office to Jane's desk for the most recent gossip updates, meeting Bob at the cafe 300m down the road for a coffee, and of course, walking up the 10 flights of stairs rather than using the lift... right? It is so important we break up long periods of sitting that we don't do as naturally when working from home.

Here are some ideas to help you naturally get some more movement in your day:

  1. Set yourself an alarm for every 30 minutes to 1 hour to stand up and do a lap or two around your house

  2. Whenever you get up to make a tea, complete squats until the water is boiled

  3. At tea/lunch/coffee breaks, walk a lap of the block to replicate that 'walk to the cafe' you're lacking

  4. Go for a walk when taking phone calls

  5. Try sitting on a Pilates ball – research suggests sitting on a Pilates ball may activate core stabilising muscles

  6. Try some of the following desk exercises every hour or so:

i) Stand up and sit back down

ii) Straighten one leg and hold for 5 seconds

iii) Hold onto the back of your chair and rotate backwards as far as you can.

iv) Hands behind your head, elbows out, look upwards as you shine your chest forwards getting a nice stretch in your back

v) Press your hands down on either side of your chair and push yourself upwards so that your bottom hovers off the chair

*Repeat each exercise 5-10 times

**If you have any existing injuries, consult a health professional prior to partaking in these exercises

***These are just suggestions! Jump online for some more ideas.

The root cause of issues associated with working from home is entirely preventable. Making a few adjustments to your workplace and daily habits will help reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms associated with poor work ergonomics. If you’re unsure of how to make the right changes, reach out to a Physiotherapist who will help to guide you in the right direction.

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