Home Ergonomics for a Healthy Spine and Nervous System

For the context of this article, we are defining “improving ergonomics” as: designing and arranging your home environment to promote efficiency, comfort, and biomechanics. Proper ergonomics helps to prevent musculoskeletal problems, solve existing overuse injuries, improve endurance and focus, as well as promote overall well-being. With more people doing more work from home, especially working on a computer, the following tips are increasingly important to maintain a healthy spine and nervous system. 

  1. Choose a chair that supports a neutral posture. This means ears over shoulders (not in front), shoulders over hips, and hips and knees at 90 degrees. Achieving this posture may require placing something under the feet. My favorite option is a kneeling chair with a curved rocking mechanism at the floor contact. This simple option also engages the core and encourages a strong posture.

  2. Stand for at least part of the work day. A good minimum is to stand for 15 minutes out of each hour. I encourage patients to stand for half of their work time. This could mean standing for one hour and then sitting for one hour (or shorter intervals, if preferred), repeating throughout the day. 

  3. Raise your monitor. Make sure the middle of the monitor is at eye level, or a bit higher, while looking straight ahead. This encourages your head to retract back onto your shoulders. Laptops make this very difficult; consider using a bluetooth keyboard and mouse or projecting to a monitor that is properly positioned.

  4. Take breaks to rest the eyes. A good rule is the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and gaze at least 20 feet away. 

These are the basics. For additional information and a customized solution, I recommend speaking with someone well versed in ergonomics. This could be your chiropractor, physical therapist, or an ergonomics expert.

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