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Millions of Americans have been sent to work from home in the past year, as opposed to working in their traditional offices. Employees have used different spaces in their houses to do their work, including couches, barstools and even their beds.

Allan Felber, president of Office Furniture Warehouse in Cleveland; and Pamela Kopsak, owner of Ergo Inspire in Cleveland, said sitting in that type of furniture for a long period of time can be harmful to our bodies.

With some businesses announcing they will allow people to work from home even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Kopsak said people will need to rethink the way they sit.

“It’s so interesting now the pandemic is coming to an end, and the majority of people are opting for at least a hybrid option,” Kopsak said.

“It sounds like the majority of people don’t want to go back to their offices full time. So this is something that they really need to be considering, how they’re going to move forward with furniture that they have at home. I highly recommend people obtaining an ergonomic desk chair. A couch, above all else, or a bed should definitely be avoided. “Also, I would recommend that they spend some time in the chair before they purchase it. I know that BuyRite Office Products in Beachwood allows customers to experiment using various chairs to ensure the proper fit before buying them.”

Couches and barstools are not ideal pieces of furniture if a person is going to be bent over their computer for long periods of time. Felber recommends an ergonomic chair tailored to a person’s specific needs.

“A good ergonomic chair, whatever that might be, whether it’s a name brand or not, should be something with good lumbar support that keeps you straight up,” Felber said. “Because I have a bad back, I need to sit straight up. Lots of people seem to work in sitting or in reclining positions, which in the long term is not good for them. The world has gone to stand-up desks or stand up-sit down desks. That’s where people do spend some time working while standing up.”

Your body can become fatigued and sore when you are maintaining an awkward posture for any period of time. This can also lead to unpleasant feelings such as headaches, dizziness and lack of concentration.

“People need to spend time stretching, because sitting for long periods of time is not good for your legs or your back,” Felber said. “So, get up and walk around 10 minutes, an hour or whatever the correct time would be. Many companies have purchased different things for their employees so they can work standing up for some percentage of the time.”

At Ergo Inspire, Kopsak analyzes how someone sits. This includes the setup that they’re sitting at, their chair, their height, the chair height, the chair depth, making sure that the back, the hips, the knees, and the feet are all in the proper alignment. She also looks at the height of their computer monitor so that the client is sitting up properly.

Kopsak added the height of a standard sized desk is 29 inches high from the floor, which is ergonomically correct for someone that’s 6 feet tall.

“The majority of us are not 6 feet tall,” Kopsak said. “We are all sitting at desks that are not the proper height for us. So, if we don’t approach the way we’re working all day from an ergonomic perspective, our bodies are gonna end up stretched out, weak, tired, fatigued and in pain because we’re sitting in a position that isn’t correct for us. And that is not healthy for us.”

Kopsak added, “Ergonomic modification and ergonomic assessments are really helpful. Because they’re going to teach people how to sit properly at their desk. It kind of rearranges their setting and their setup so that they can work in the optimal position and avoid these problems.”

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