Solo Build It! Case Studies

Work at Home in a Healthy Environment – The Ergonomic Setup

by Jason Monroe

Many people have made the decision to find a way to work from home. The reasons vary from wanting to be self-employed, to not being able to work in a 9 to 5 environment. Even the reasons on that can vary. Perhaps you have young children and it’s easier to work around them, than it is to find a place of employment that is flexible enough to tend to the kids.

Another reason that seems to be growing is that working at a desk all day in a typical office environment can be hazardous to our bodies. Sure, we can talk to our employers about quality equipment, multiple breaks, and everything else that would help to relieve ourselves from the pains associated to sitting all day. But, they can only do so much, especially if they are on a tight deadline or budget.

So, if you have made the move to work from home, in blogging, freelancing, or telecommuting with a larger employer, you will want to take some steps in making sure it’s a healthy environment. I am going to share some ideas with you that you can implement before you start…or, incorporate into your existing home business environment.

Let’s get started.

Practicing Healthy Posture

Before you even start looking for office equipment, such as the desk, chair, and computer, you should know what you can do with proper posturing. Knowing how you should sit, such as distance from the computer, height, and how placement of the equipment can help, will allow you to know what to look for when shopping.

Dr. Amy Grabowski, who provides Chiropractic services in Virginia, makes some great suggestions, which will help keep our bodies from stressing too much while sitting at our desks. I will admit that I occasionally omit these tips when working away from my desk and can certainly feel it by the end of the day.

She recommends that we sit back completely in our chair, with our backs resting on the back of the chair, and our feet comfortably flat on the floor. If the chair is not adjustable, or if you can’t lower the chair enough, use a box to place under your feet. This will take significant stress off your back.

Also, pull the chair up to the desk so that your arms can rest comfortably by your side at a 90° angle when working on the keyboard. You should also be about an arm’s length away from the monitor.

Speaking of monitors, make sure it’s at a height that you can look directly into the middle of the screen, without bending your neck. Just like the chair, if it’s not adjustable, place it on a box so you don’t unnecessarily strain your neck.

Tools and Equipment

Fortunately, there are a few options to consider when it comes to ergonomics in our home based business. They are all designed to help keep our bodies in the best position, eliminating stress on our backs, wrists, necks, and eyes.

The most popular
is the chair. A high quality chair doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. But, it should have certain benefits such as adjustable height, swivel base, and a lumbar support for the lower back. The lumbar curve should fit nicely in the lower back, or it’s not going to help.

A wrist pad for the keyboard will help to protect you from the dreaded carpal tunnel that we all are prone to when working on our computers all day. A good one will prevent your wrist from bending inappropriately, eliminating strain on them.

An ergonomic desk will be appropriately angled so that you won’t have to reach more than necessary. Of course we will all have to reach to some degree, but keeping it to a minimum, it will take some of the stress off our shoulders, backs, and necks.

Other ergonomically designed tools include:

  • Footrests

  • Document Holders

  • Anti-Glare Screens

  • Phone Headsets

  • Ergonomic Keyboards

There are a variety of styles and designs for all of these, as well as cost. And, you might not want to invest in all of them, but they are worth taking a look at. Personally, I don’t have them all, but I can tell you that I have enough to make a difference in how I feel at the end of the day. For example, the lumbar support is vital in being able to walk when I eventually get up.

Training for Endurance

No, I am not talking about the Olympics, or any other major physical endurance training. However, there are steps you can take throughout the day that will help you to endure the day for optimum production.

Get up and walk around once in a while. You are no longer being watched by anyone, or timed on a clock, so allow yourself a few short breaks. Walk, stretch, and loosen those muscles up, which will be tightening up while sitting for longer periods of time.

On your down time, get some exercise in to strengthen your core muscles. If your muscles are weak, it will take far more effort to support your system throughout the day, resulting in more pain and exhaustion.

Finally, drink plenty of water. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramping and tenderness. By simply drinking the recommended amount of water per day, it helps to reduce muscle pain. If you have a difficult time getting the 8 6-8 ounce glasses down, add some light flavoring to it. I have cut up lemon wedges before to add some flavor. I think there are a few of us that tend to gravitate towards coffee, to keep us going. However, limit it, because it can be dehydrating when consumed in large amounts.

The bottom line is that if we take care of our bodies, they will help to take care of our careers and lives.

About the Author

Jason Monroe is a freelance writer who is writing a series of articles on the importance of ergonomics in the work place, with the assistance of a Chiropractor in Columbia, IL.

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