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If, like many people across the country, you have returned to working from home following the recent Government update, or you have been working from home since lockdown and will be for the foreseeable future, then you will want to ensure you have the correct desk up. 

Poor posture at your desk, and extended periods in a sedentary position both significantly contribute to neck, back and upper limb musculoskeletal pain.  According to NHS England, musculoskeletal pain (including neck and back pain), affects 1 in 4 of the adult population and accounts for 30% of GP consultations. It also has a huge impact on quality of life and results in a loss of 10.8 million days at work (www.england.nhs.uk).

In clinic we have certainly seen an increase in the number of patients coming in with musculoskeletal pain, which can be linked to time spent in a sedentary position with an inadequate desk set up.  Given the lack of time companies had to prepare for employees working from home, it’s not surprising to hear that the dining room chair and table, sofa and coffee table, bed and lap have become makeshift office spaces, and the majority of you are working off laptops.

Regardless of what chair you’re sitting on and what you’re using for your desk, and weather you’re working off a laptop or desktop computer, there are a number of simple changes you can make to help get your work space as ergonomically correct as possible, and some easy ways to help prevent neck, back and upper limb musculoskeletal pain. 

Chair height. 

You should be sitting with your feet flat on the floor or a foot rest, and have a small gap behind your knees.

Sit back in your chair.

You should have good back support from your chair, but if your back isn’t touching the back of the chair, or it has no support, use a firm cushion or lumbar support.

Get under your desk/table.

Your chair should be able to get under your desk/table so you can get as close as possible.

If your chair has arms that stop you getting close to your desk/table, take them off or lower them down as far as possible.

Upper limb position.

Your shoulders should be relaxed with your arms by your side.

Forearms parallel to the desk/table

Screen position.

Your monitor should be roughly arms length away from you with the top of the screen at eye level.

Working from a laptop? Invest in a wireless keyboard and mouse and put the laptop in a raised position at eye level.

To help prevent aches and pains, try to get up hourly and move around. Stretch whilst making a cup of tea or waiting for your lunch, and ideally eat lunch away from your desk.

Given the uncertainty of how long everyone might be working at home for, if you do start to experience aches and pains don’t leave them to get worse and become chronic.

We have a team of experienced physiotherapists, injury therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists at the clinic who can help, and also provide further advice regarding achieving the best possible desk set up for you at home. Contact The Thornbury Clinic on 01454 838366 www.thethornburyclinic.co.uk

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