Illustration of woman running away from screens

I'm going to start this post off with a disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, physiotherapist or someone who can help diagnose you. Just an internet friend sharing her experiences, especially now that many of us are working from home. A few changes to the design of your workstation can make a huge impact on your likelihood of getting an injury.

About 3 years ago, I started getting shooting pains up and down my arm and experiencing swelling of my hand, numbness in my wrist and some of my fingers. At that point, it was too late. Years of bad sitting, typing, and mousing habits had caught up to me and all I could really do was try to retroactively fix my habits. If you're not currently experiencing similar symptoms (or even if you are), it might be a good time to pay more attention to the ergonomic design of  your at-home set up.

er·go·nom·ic
/ˌərɡəˈnämik/

adjective
relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.

You can make a few adjustments to how you've designed your at-home work setup to reduce your risk of injury, or to improve your symptoms:

1) STOP using a trackpad.

Stop it right now. That pinching motion you're making with your fingers is terrible for the tendons in your hands. Over time, it can cause issues and inflammation.

Consider getting an ergonomic mouse (also called a vertical mouse) for your workstation instead, and reduce the repetitive strain that mousing and gestures can cause.

2) Is your desk too high or low for you?

If you find yourself in a shrugging position while typing, odds are your desk is too high for you. And if you're looking downwards and your neck is bent, your workstation is probably too low.

Ideally, your feet should be bent at a right angle, flat on the ground, and you should be looking straight ahead at your screen.

If you find that your computer screen is too low, you can use some books to raise it so that it's at eye level.

Unfortunately, it's easier to raise the level of your computer than it is to lower it. If your computer is too high, try to find a lower work surface to work on (I've had to resort to a couch or chair on some occasions). Lowering your chair hight might also be a good temporary solution. But ultimately, it may be a good idea to look into a workstation that's more tailored to your height.

3) Consider getting an external keyboard if you don't already have one.

This adds more flexibility to your workstation, and allows you to have your screen at eye level, but your keyboard comfortably within reach (your shoulders should be completely relaxed while you type.

4) Does your wrist still hurt despite trying to make your workstation as ergonomic as possible?

It might be time to talk to your doctor about it, and explore options like wrist braces or other alternatives to make you more comfortable.

5) Do you find yourself constantly slouching?

Try to find a seat with some kind of back support to encourage you to sit upright.

For a lot of us, keeping the design of our work space in mind is going to be essential in preventing or mitigating repetitive strain injuries (like carpal tunnel or tendonitis) while we work from home.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms I've described above, speak to your doctor! They'll likely have some great advice specially tailored to your unique needs.