Long gone are the days where working from home means having your email open but catching up on Netflix, laundry and life admin. Now it means actually being productive in a room that wasn’t setup to deal with anything more than dinner, TV or the spare room where you hang out your washing.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have your work computer shipped home… or less expensively thrown into a back of an Uber on you’re last office day… you’ll probably have a laptop somewhere acting as your new powerhouse of productivity. The problem though is where to put it and how to use it without your neck slowly falling off!

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and the lock-down affecting us all, there has been a significant increase in the number of online consultations we’ve had relating to neck and upper back pain. Patients we’ve seen some time ago and have been pain-free since are now popping online and booking in with us. The common issue with those who are having neck and mid/upper back pain is their home work station.

You’ll be glad to know there are solutions that don’t involve converting your garage or spending £££’s installing a fully adjustable desk and chair to install in your makeshift office at home. If you are lucky enough to have a good workstation in a separate office room at home check out our home workstation setup guide.

Below are 5 points to help get the best out of what you have around you.

1/ Separating your keyboard from your laptop

The keyboard on a laptop encourages poor posture when in combination with an internal screen and at worst a track pad. If you use an external keyboard you can move your hands to a position that allows your arms to rest on the desk and your shoulders stay relaxed and down.

You can buy a simple USB keyboard from almost anywhere without breaking the bank.

2/ Making your screen a monitor, not a gravity well

With laptops normally resting on a table; your screen is typically far below the recommended eye-line. You’ll end up with your head looking downwards creating a consistent contraction of your posterior neck and upper back muscles. In time this can increase the risk of neck pain in the same way that holding a rock in an outstretched arm all day will hurt.
The best way around this depends on your response to point 1. If you have a Bluetooth keyboard then raise the laptop on books, boxes or whatever is stable and sturdy so your laptop screen is inline with a horizontal eye-line. If you don’t, do you have an external monitor or even a TV you can plug in to raise your eye-line away from the laptop?

3/ Seats… not Sofas

Sitting on the sofa with your laptop on a stool may be good for your eye-line but wouldn’t get past an ergonomic assessment to put it lightly. They are really useful to fall back into when you want some brain space but a lack of good back support is the issue.

Sofas also allow your pelvis to rock backwards when sitting. This makes it almost impossible to have you back sitting upright. A seat allows your pelvis to rock forwards.
Simply having a back rest that will keep your lower back slightly curved and your knees bent will allow you lower back to fall naturally into a useful position.

4/ Mice or Mouses

This one is simple… get one! Trackpads are horrid, they pull you away from sitting tall. The cable of the mouse is not there just to connect the two. Instead it gives you vital wiggle room to allow good posture and a good shoulder position.

5/ Home exercises – No one is watching

Use your new found isolation to do the exercises you didn’t want to do in front of your colleagues. Take those recommended breaks. Stretch and exercise your back, neck and shoulders to help keep pain away. For those working from home full-time you can still access our range of useful desk based exercises.

There is almost too much content online to choose from. So here are a few people I can recommend who can help cut through the shirtless wonders out there. They offer online support or have a library of exercises you can work through to fill those dull times:

Annie Celeste – Personal trainer and creator of QueerSpace

Chris Hallaways – Personal trainer and Calisthenics Expert – Co-founder of Corona Home Workouts

Yoga with Adriene – Online Yoga from heart. Finding what feels good.

Now that you are fully informed of what to do, take action and setup your home workstation. All of what I have mentioned can be ordered online or be made from something you already have at home.

Check out this patient’s setup

Here is a great example from one of our patients who has been given a work laptop from her workplace. She bought a mouse and keyboard recently and we are loving her toilet roll use!

A great example of making the most out of what you have.

  • Eyes are looking forward
  • Screen is close (could be closer)
  • Arms are by the sides
  • Back is upright (thanks loo roll)
  • Mouse to the side

While we are all in lock-down our team our still working from home via our online telehealth video platform. Find an appointment via our booking system and speak with us via your web-browser. You’d be surprised how much support we can offer virtually.

Let us know if you have any questions, the team and I would be very happy to help.

Check us out on Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube channel for tips, advice and exercises and get in contact via info@justonebody.com.

Stay safe, fit and mobile

Kieran – Clinic Director, Principle Osteopath and Sports Rehabilitator

Leave a Reply