Tips for Setting Up a Makeshift Work-From-Home Setup

The Basics of Ergonomics and 4 Positions To Stay Pain Free

Work from Home Ergonomics Physical therapy Computer Work Pain

There are times in our lives when we have no choice but to stay home and stay busy. Sick kiddo? Sick world (COVID-19)? Flooded Office? Snow day?These are immediate situations that come to mind that I’ve heard directly from clients this last year. Not all of us have a home office where we can have a great, ergonomic go-to set up at the blink of the eye, so let’s talk about various makeshift workstations and things to think about! 

Here’s The Basics: Ideally, think of these basics in all situations.

  • MONITOR: Arm’s length away. Minimize glare while still being in a well lit room
  • HEAD: Place monitor so it is on a level where your neck can maintain neutral posture, and not have to flex forward for long periods. 
  • EYES: Try to keep eye gaze straight forward to avoid strain on eyes as well; think top of screen at or slightly below eye level. If you have blue light blocking glasses, wear them while working on your computer; or search through setting to see if your computer allows this reduction. 
  • TRUNK: Maintain upright, neutral posture whether sitting or standing.
  • ARMS: Wrists straight, arms resting near side, and hands at or below elbow level
  • CHAIR: a semi-firm surface to allow for easy upright pelvic sitting posture (“Sit on your Vagina!”)
  • LEGS: if sitting on a raised surface, feet flat and supported, thighs parallel or slightly lower than hips
  • ACCESSORIES: Keep additional objects needed such as a mouse, phone, notepad within easy reach and same level as keyboard if possible. Try to mix up which side objects are on so not habitually only reaching with dominant arm.
  • OTHER: Take breaks often throughout your work day! Get up and move, stretch, walk around, eat a snack, call a friend. Staying in one position all day, no matter the position, is not good for our bodies. Keep a water within arms reach, as well! Hydration is huge to keeping our bodies healthy. 

Try to apply these concepts to all situations, as much as possible. Here are some examples of non-traditional workstations may be options in your home as well. The options are limitless! Keep it switching up based on what your body (and sanity) need 🙂 

using an exercise ball for ergonomics when working on the computer Breathe. at Home

End Table Sitting

My end tables are slightly taller than my coffee table, so I chose it for the level that my body was at when sitting on the ball. The ball has me sitting too low to be sitting at my table, but too high to use the coffee table.

floor sitting, ergonomics for desk work from home

Floor Sitting

Sometimes I just like sitting on the floor. I have endless amounts of space to spread things out around me if I’m planning or organizing a project. I’m sitting on a pillow to elevate my pelvis so it’s easier to sit forward on my vagina, versus tucked under and leads to tailbone pressure/pain on the ground. My toddler’s chair worked double as a desk; the perfect height when on the floor! 

couch sitting ergonomics working from home

Couch Sitting

Pillows, pillows, pillows! It’s easy to want to get all ‘comfy’ and recline back, curl up in a ball, and kick up your feet… but don’t! Sitting like this for an extended period of time leads to hip, low back and all sorts of aches/pains/tightness. Here, I used a pillow behind for support to sit up tall on my vagina, pillow under my feet so they aren’t dangling, and the trusty boppy lounger pillow for my laptop support to bring it up to a good height for my neck.

countertop standing ergonomics breathe physical therapy

Countertop Standing

Countertops can vary at each home, and work differently for different heights. Do what works best for your height. I’m short, so my standard level countertop, plus adding a box of cheerios for a little raise, helped to bring it to a decent height to keep my arms and neck in a good place. Stand with your weight forward in the balls of your feet, versus in your heels, to avoid glute tightness and low back pain from creeping in right away. 

Home ergonomics is one of the amazing things that telehealth physical therapy appointments allows us to address even BETTER than with an in-person appointment. Call 515-882-0800 to schedule a telehealth appointment with a Breathe. physical therapist today and let us help you achieve your optimal workstation!