Workspaces are incredibly important, on so many levels. We spend a lot of time at work and many of us spend a lot of time sitting (or standing) in a fixed position.
The more comfortable we are at our workspace, the more productive we will be, the more we will achieve and achievement leads to happiness. So let’s make a a happy space!
Be it in the office or at home, it is important to take time to create a workspace that is relevant to your body, your habits and your needs. For some, this might mean filling your office space with ergonomic equipment, for others, some books stacked atop each other might do the trick. Ultimately the goal is to understand your physical requirements and cater to them for comfort and longevity.
Initially, we need to identify habits and movement patterns in ourselves before changing anything at our workspace. Use these questions to self-screen:
Which is my dominant hand?
Do I lean on my elbows? Which elbow do I lean on more?
Do I cross one leg on top of the other? Which leg?
Are my feet ever flat on the ground?
Which sit bone do I lean into more?
Which side are all my desk supplies?
How often do I get up from my desk?
Where are my screens sitting in relation to my eye level?
Do I sit forward or back in my chair?
Familiarising yourself with your workspace habits, both postural and movement related, begins to paint a picture of what your space should look like.
These questions should help surface some of your habitual postures and patterns when it comes to sitting at your desk. Our bodies often go into autopilot when we are working or studying - thus it is useful to become conscious of these patterns. Alongside this, take note of any insights you have about your posture:
Does your head poke forward when using a computer screen?
Are your shoulders rounded?
Do your shoulders rise towards your ears when your elbows are on the desk?
Do you hold tension at your wrists when typing?
Are your hands above or below your wrists when you type?
Do you rock your pelvis forward or back excessively to find a comfortable seat?
Familiarising yourself with your workspace habits, both postural and movement related, begins to paint a picture of what your space should look like. In an ideal world, a workspace would be entirely ergonomic to account for our ever changing bodies. Ergonomic design acknowledges the variation in human movement and ability, offering tools that fit the person, rather than forcing the person to fit their tools.
We can’t all fill our spaces with ergonomic equipment, so knowing how to set up your space with what you have, plus bringing in ergonomic equipment to help with the postural habits that may be causing you the most discomfort.
Once you work out your key pain (or discomfort) points you can assess which equipment would be best for you, and set up your space around these.
Here are the main items to consider when designing your office space, be that permanent or temporary:
Chair: height adjustable and supporting your spinal curves. Your feet should be able to comfortably rest both feet flat on the ground, with your bum back in the seat of your chair
Foot rest: if your desk or chair cannot be adjusted, add a rest under your feet so that they sit flat
Desk: ensure there is ample space for your knees, thighs and feet. Don’t store items under your desk
Screen: the top of your monitor should be at eye height and around an arms length away from the face. If you wear bifocal glasses, try placing your monitor a little lower
Keyboard: your keyboard should be forward so your forearms are supported by the desk, not hanging off the edge. Your wrists should be soft, if you hold tension in your wrist use a wrist rest, and aim to have elbows tucked in close to the sides of the body.
Phone use: make use of a headset or earphones instead of holding a phone with one hand, or between your ear and shoulder.
If you find yourself fidgeting your body is not in it’s ideal position, so review and ask yourself the questions above again, focusing on each key body part.
Establishing what works often requires trial and error. When it comes to making changes, it is beneficial to make small changes rather than changing everything at once. Experiment with your setup and remember that there is no “one size fits all” rule. If you find yourself in pain we may be able to assist with a body assessment and even an assessment of your space.
Make an appointment with one of our remedial therapists, myotherapist or osteopath and bring in a couple of photos of your set up (work or home), from different angles and with you in position. We’ll help where we can with advice, stretches and of course some soft tissue release for those muscles that may have been a little bit abused.