As the days of the pandemic turned into months, it became obvious to Canadians working from home that their makeshift office settings were leading to unexpected consequences – new aches and pains in various parts of the body and possible musculoskeletal injuries.

The New Year is the perfect time to take a look at how to prevent injury from your home work setup and get into new, healthier habits. Where and how you work are important to your health. Meanwhile, your physiotherapist can assist you with the appropriate exercises and recovery plan if you’ve already fallen victim to home workplace injuries, such as back strain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Ergonomics at Home: How to Set Up Your Office

No matter how crowded your quarters, sitting on the couch or bed with your laptop just isn’t wise – you’ll soon be feeling back pain, neck or wrist strain. Even though you may not be able to achieve an ideal setup at home, do what you can to help your body stay healthy. Here are some tips for setting up your workspace in a more ergonomic fashion:


Make sure the lighting in your workspace is adequate; working in rooms that are too dark or too brightly lit can lead to eyestrain and headaches. You also want to avoid glare, so reduce or eliminate it with window shades, diffusers on overhead lights and anti-glare filters for your computer screens.


A chair with proper lumbar support can protect the lower back from injury and keep your spine aligned. You can use a rolled-up towel or a pillow as a support. If possible, use a chair that can be adjusted to your height. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and keep your knees, elbows and hips at about 90 degrees. Your wrists should be aligned with your elbows and your eyes should be in line with the top of your screen. A thick book or a ream of paper is useful in raising your monitor or laptop to align properly and the rolled towel or a pillow also work magic in aligning your wrists and elbows.

Computer Setup.

Your computer monitor should be an arm’s length away to prevent you from bending your neck forward and straining it or causing eye strain if it is too close. Your keyboard and mouse should be placed in a way that allows your wrists to be straight so you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Keep your cords taped down or tucked away so you avoid tripping.

Desk Design.

Further ensure that your workspace is ergonomic by organizing your desk accordingly. Items you use frequently, such as your mouse, your keyboard or a pen, should be within a forearm’s reach, while things you use less frequently, such as scissors, tape or sticky notes, could be placed within an arm’s length. Equipment that isn’t used often, such as a printer or a scanner, can be situated further away.

Working From Home: Injury Prevention Strategies

Setting up your home office is only half the battle in staying healthy while working from home. Self-scrutiny and maintenance are also important. Take note of these hints:

Monitor Your Posture.

Keep an eye your alignment while you’re working. Be sure that the there is no pressure under your thighs, that the small of your back is supported and your shoulders are relaxed (not slumped and not elevated).

Take Frequent Breaks.

Sitting for long periods of time can be harmful to your body, so take lots of mini-breaks to allow your muscles and joints to move and recover. Do some stretching or take a short walk. You can set a timer or your watch or download an app to remind you to stop your current task and get up from your desk. Don’t skimp on breaks; your body will thank you later. Yoga is also a wonderful way to stretch overused joints and muscles.

Pay Attention to Discomfort.

You are not being a whiner if you have concerns about new aches and pains; your body is trying to tell you something. Adjustments to your work station may right the ship, but, if not, contact your physiotherapist for an evaluation and some preventive or rehabilitation exercises. Working through your pain may simply make the problem worse and harder to correct.

Life is all about change, and the better you adapt to the changes to your work environment, the happier your body will be. However, if you are experiencing discomfort, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your physiotherapist to put you back on course.

Is Working From Home Causing You Pain?