Preventing work injuries is possible by designing your home office so that everything fits your body correctly.
You need to give some thought to the design and equipment of your home office, but you don’t need to spend a fortune on your desk. Just remember a little attention here can go a long way towards preventing work injuries later.
As you start your new virtual assistant business and build up your clientele, you also will be working many long hours. It is important for you to think about your physical comfort when designing your work station. As you concentrate on getting everything done, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Working at a computer all day is not easy on the body and is certainly contributing to modern day prevalence of back pain and carpal tunnel. I never had a problem with my wrist until I started working on a computer all day – particularly graphics. There are a few precautions you can take to protect yourself from competitive injuries and overall aches.
Ergonomics is a discipline dealing with the interaction between the worker and the work environment. Fitting the environment to the worker, rather than the other way around. Recently there has been a great deal of attention on preventing work injuries in the workplace and there has been much research done on how people get injured at work. When setting up your home office, you can take advantage of how much we know about avoiding computer and office related injures. There are many ergonomically designed workstations and computer equipment so don’t try to cut costs here. You only have one body and you need to take care of it.
Mouse and Keyboards
These two pieces of equipment are some of the hardest on the body. Try an ergonomic keyboard which puts your wrists in a more natural position. There are many different types of mouse designs and you may want to experiment with what works best for you. I have a wireless mouse that I love because I am not always yanking at the cord. Keep your mouse at the same height as your keyboard and keep your elbow at around a 90 degree angle, avoid pulling at the mouse and you will avoid elbow pain.
You may also want to use a wrist pad to keep your wrists straight when you are typing.
You don’t need a very large, expensive chair but it does need to be comfortable and fit your body.
You need to make sure you are comfortable at your desk and that your feet hit the floor with correct posture. Make sure your chair is adjustable so that the height and tilt fit your body. The bend at your hips and knees should be 90% angles. Many chairs now have a lumbar support for your lower back; you can also always buy one for your chair if you need the support.
For shorter people there are foot rests that can keep your legs at a 90 angle. If you feet don’t hit the floor appropriately, there will be too much pressure on the back of your legs where they meet the edge of your chair, cutting off circulation.
Make sure your computer monitor is between 18 – 24 inches from your face and facing directly in front of you. Keep the angle close to eye level so that you are not looking up or down which causes eye strain. A good rule of thumb is to keep the top of the monitor (not the screen) about 2 – 3 inches above your eye level.
Monitors are much better today than the flickering ones for past years and much easier on your eyes, however, it can still cause eye strain. Use eye drops if your eyes are dry and remember to blink often. Take breaks and look off into the distance which uses the other muscles of your eyes and gives them a break for up close work. There are anti-glare screens they can help a great deal as well.
If you feel any excessive or prolonged pain anywhere, be sure to see a doctor. Most things can be fixed if you catch them before permanent damage is done.
Stretching: It is easy to get kinked muscles staying hunched over a computer for hours. Get up and do some stretching exercises to keep those muscles limber. Stretch your wrists and shoulders periodically to keep the muscles lose and get your blood flowing.
Take breaks often. Your mind, body and eyes need a rest and don’t feel guilty about these little breaks. You will find they increase your productivity and stamina when you return to work.
Get a massage. This may sound like a luxury but a good massage therapists can get those muscles loose and help prevent injury. It also increases circulation, improves immune system and soothes stress. This could be the well-deserved break you need!