Escape from Aches & Pains during WFH

Text by: Dr.Vinod Gupta

With COVID-19 restrictions being in place for so long, people working from home find they are tired of it and they are facing many health challenges. Old problems have got aggravated and new ones have appeared. Dry eyes, neck pain, back ache and inability to relax and sleep through the night are the most common problems.

Experts from many fields have a lot of advice to offer on this subject. Tips from physiotherapists, gym trainers, yoga gurus, nutrition experts and psychotherapists are available online. Much of this advice relates to exercising, yoga, meditation, following a proper routine, eating and drinking the right things, and managing and sharing your responsibilities better. While all these recommendations make sense, one basic problem remains unaddressed – the kind of equipment one is using during WFH. With the exception of TCS employees, who got their desktop computers delivered at home, most people are using laptop computers during WFH. Unless used properly, this convenient device is creating long-term physical problems for users. Constant mobile phone use is also creating a new set of problems. Home furniture like sofas, dining chairs, dining tables and coffee tables are not meant for constant use. They also compound the postural problems related to laptop and mobile use.

The Laptop – In the best of circumstances, the laptop, whatever the brand, has an intrinsic ergonomic issue – it makes the user slouch. The keyboard and the display are too close to each other and one can optimize the height of the device either for the eyes or for the arms, but not for both. The display ought to be placed so that its top is level with your eyes. The keyboard should be an inch lower than your elbows. This would not be a problem if you were working on a desktop in the office or if you used the laptop for casual work at home. It has become a major problem today because the laptop is being used for WFH the whole day. Some experts say that the laptop can be used properly only when you lie down with a pillow for back support and place the laptop on your thighs, but it is hard to see the keyboard that way and even harder to use the mouse.  Working in the bed creates many other problems as well. To get the right posture at work, it is necessary to lift the laptop display by 6-8 inches and use an external keyboard and mouse. You can use a stack of books or a shoe box to raise the laptop and check the result instantly. All you need for this is an external keyboard and mouse. Opus Indigo makes Arise and AriseGo for adjusting the height of the laptop. While Arise works for laptop and desktop, AriseGo is portable and it works for multiple devices including laptop, tablet, phone and even books.

The Mobile Phone – The mobile phone creates health issues even in normal times, but during lockdown, phone calls have become longer and it is in use all the time. While the laptop is a problem only for those who use it, the phone creates postural problems for everyone. The user bends his/her neck down to look at the phone. The only sensible way of using this device is by raising it to eye level, so that the neck can be kept straight while using the phone. One way of reducing phone use is to get social media on the computer. When sitting at a table, one can use easily available phone supports to keep the phone at the table. To help hold the phone up near eye level, you can use a selfie stick, with the bottom supported on the lap. Opus AriseGo holds the phone up at a convenient level if you are sitting at a table. All you need is a phone grip (pop socket or mobile ring) to use with AriseGo. 

The Chair – In earlier times, everyone used to ask for a comfortable chair, but now many people ask for ergonomic chairs. Even if one can pay the price for an ergonomic chair, they are too big to be used at home and usually lead to poor posture. The really expensive ‘ergonomic’ chairs are so supportive and comfortable that you never get out of them. The problem is that online search will show you that you need all those supports, especially the lumber support. There are also unbiased reports that will tell you that you are better off without any of those. All you really need is a chair with a flat seat in which you can sit at the edge and get the right posture. If you have a wooden chair with a backward sloping seat, you can correct the slope by placing a booster roll made from a yoga mat and sit on the roll.  This DIY Lockdown Seat lets you sit with your back straight and your thighs sloping down, the correct ergonomic way of sitting that ‘ergonomic chairs’ do not allow. Opus Indigo offers Aktiv Chairs that provide proper ergonomic support and allow height adjustment as well. These saddle chairs remind you to get up frequently and re-activate your back muscles as well.

The Table – Your chair and table need to work well together for optimal results. A poorly matched table and chair is the main cause for poor posture. Coffee tables cannot be used for work with sofas or even while sitting on the floor. You need a combination that lets you get up effortlessly. A table of 30 inches height or more is better for work. Opus Indigo Aktiv chairs that rise higher than normal and allows one to site properly with elbows higher than the table. The laptop height can easily be adjusted with Opus Arise or AriseGo.

If you take care of your posture, WORK FROM HOME can still be bad for you simply because you are sitting down all day. The Sitting Disease cripples people when they sit down excessively at home, in office and in transport. According to Mayo Clinic, the ill effects of excessive sitting include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. Too much sitting overall and prolonged periods of sitting also seem to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Sitting includes not just sitting at work but also at the dining table, in the sofa and in transport. To get over the Sitting Disease you need a sit/stand work arrangement where you stand and work part of the time.

Opus Indigo offers EeTeeGo, the sit/stand workstation for use with laptops or desktop computers, in table and wall mounted versions. Opus EeTeeGo provides the perfect environment for avoiding the dangers of excessive sitting, corrects posture with laptops and combines perfectly with Opus Aktiv Chair. Together, these make a beautiful, end-to-end solution for the home workplace.