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How to create a pain-free home workspace as pandemic continues

File photo
File photo (Photo: energepic.com/Pexels/stock image)

COVID-19 forced many of us to leave the comfort of our ergonomically correct offices and work from home, leading to a host of aches and pains.

Dr. Andrew Bang, a chiropractor at Cleveland Clinic, said the key to a pain-free workday starts with a creative setup.

“Figure out how to use boxes, or books, to create a better ergonomic setup,” he said. “Rules of thumb are just trying to think, ‘how do I help gravity sit equally upon my neck, shoulders, low back and my wrists?’”

Bang said the ideal setup is a place where you can sit with your ears lined up over your shoulders, looking straight ahead.

“If we think of our head like the weight of a bowling ball as we look down, the heavier that bowling ball seems, and the more work our muscles and our neck and our shoulders have to do to hold our head in place,” Bang said.

Stacking books is a good way to get your monitor at the right height. Elbows and wrists should be resting at a 90-degree angle. And you want your low back in an upright position – you can add a pillow for extra support.

“Our low back can withstand a lot of use but, eventually after sitting for so long, it gets fatigued and when we fatigue, we slouch,” he said. “When we slouch, then we’re putting more pressure in abnormal places and that leads to pain.”

Legs should be evenly resting on the chair, with feet touching the floor. A box or stool can be used as a footrest too. No matter where you work though, Bang said it’s important to move.

“The take home is always changing it up,” he said. “So, even if you use a pillow, if you don’t move your back, you’re going to be right back to where you were before with some discomfort and pain, so move,

move, move, move!”

Bang adds that it’s best to avoid using a laptop on a couch or bed, because looking down while sitting on soft surfaces can overstretch your low back and neck.