Get comfortable: Things to do at home that help reduce strain as we age
While exercise is essential to better health, there are also several things you can do at home to your space to feel healthier.
At our Recharge Retreat, we heard from home ergonomics expert Udell Craven on how to set up your living space to reduce strain on the body and risk of injury. Read on for his tips every older adult should know about home ergonomics, and how to successfully set up your home to avoid unnecessary stresses on the body.
First of all, what is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is a way for us to fit a workspace or workstation to our needs. We use ergonomics to keep our bodies in natural, neutral positions. As we’re working, or working on hobbies, we put our bodies into stressful positions that strain our arms, hands.
Ergonomics is a way to avoid repetitive strength injuries. Carpal Tunnel is the most common, and comes from putting constant pressure on your wrist.
What should my ideal stance be when I am at home?
Stand up, drop your arms to your side, and make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Everything between your hands is your ideal work zone.
What’s a good sitting position for me at home?
Make a 90-degree angle with your legs, knees and ankles. You don’t want your legs to dangle.
Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground or stable surface. Make sure your lower limbs are getting proper circulation. There should be three fingers of room between back of knees and edge of seat.
What kind of chair should I use?
Use chairs that have a cushion. You can use all kinds of chairs, just make sure it has proper cushioning! Use a pillow if you want to. Just don’t sit on something hard for a long period of time. Likewise, if you’re sitting on something very soft for a long amount of time, like a couch, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough support.
You can buy lumbar support or make your own. I recommend taking small or medium sized towels. Roll them up like a log and put them behind your back. Make sure the towel isn’t too large.
Does lighting make a difference?
Yes, it’s best to spend your time in a well-lit area. If you have a hard time seeing you, then it’s probably too dark. You can strain your eyes if you’re in a dark room looking at a bright screen. Get a desk lamp, turn on lights – anything that can light up the room more.
Why is this important? If you’re working in a dark room, that makes you want to lean forward. This leads to neck, shoulder, and back pain.
If I use a computer a lot, where should I place my screen at home?
Don’t place a screen right in front of the window because the light coming in from the window is brighter than the light from your screen, and this forces your eyes to strain while focusing on the light coming from the screen. If you need to be in front of a window, use blinds or curtains.
How do I keep a neutral position when looking at my laptop?
Keep your screen at eye level. You can put a stack of books under the laptop, or magazines. Place yoru laptop about 18” from your face. Getting too close to the screen can cause eye fatigue; but going too far away from the screen can cause learning forward. Try not to bend or rest your wrists while typing, and keep a straight line from your elbow to your hand.
What advice do you have for phones?
Phones are an awkward size and shape, there is no truly ergonomic way to hold one. Using a Popsocket can help take the strain off your fingers and allow for a natural position. Be mindful of “text neck” – don’t look down while holding your phone for too long. Switch between holding with one hand, two hands and placing on a tabletop.
What’s the 20-20-20 rule?
Every 20 minutes, focus on something more than 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This can help reduce eye fatigue.
Have any tips of your own when it comes to setting up at-home devices? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.