Working Smart For Health and Comfort
Do you sometimes get up from your computer chair after working and notice that your back, neck, shoulders, or other body parts are sore? If so, you might be one of the millions of people who pay the price of not having an ergonomic work station. What is “ergonomics”? It’s the science of designing things like desks, chairs, and computers so that our bodies can use them easily.
In fact, the Greek roots of the word are “ergo,” which means “work,” and “nomoi,” which means “laws of nature.” Fortunately, many things we use on a daily basis are ergonomically designed. Cars are the best example because seats are contoured to the human form with good back support. Steering wheels are adjustable so we don’t strain our arms. And accessories like mirrors, radio knobs, and heater controls are placed in convenient, “ergonomic” positions so we can operate our cars with minimal body stress.
The downside is that our home workstations are usually not ergonomic. Why? It’s simply because we haven’t taken the time to make them so. The good news is that with just a bit of effort, anyone can turn their home work station into an ergonomically friendly space.
Did you know that factory and office workers who learn the basic principles of ergonomics have fewer health problems and enjoy their jobs more? Why not take a lesson from the experts and upgrade your space for maximum body comfort and back support? Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Know What the Benefits Are
People who use ergonomic work stations suffer fewer physical problems like sore backs, eye strain, wrist fatigue, arm and leg cramps, neck stiffness, and are even able to minimize the symptoms of serious conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and scoliosis.
Once you begin using an ergonomic work station you’ll probably also notice that your productivity goes up, you feel emotionally more at ease, and don’t become tired as quickly. Many people are surprised to learn that there are both physical and emotional benefits from well-designed workspaces.
Just Do It!
Now is the time to begin transforming your home office into an ergonomic work area. You need not be an architect, engineer, or designer to get the job done. Just follow a few simple guidelines to get your chair, desk, monitor, and other pieces of the workstation puzzle in place. Here are the six core components of the job:
- Posture: Sit as you do in a car, with your feet on the floor and your seat tilted slightly backward so your shoulders, upper back, neck, and head have some room to move around a little bit.
- Mouse: Opt for a wireless mouse so that you aren’t constantly making tiny physical adjustments to “reel in” the excess wiring that dangles from the rear of wired mice. Place the mouse about two feed to the left or right of your keyboard, based on whether you’re right- or left-handed.
- Keyboard; Use a pull-out tray for best results, and try to get the keyboard so that it’s about two inches over your resting thighs. If you can adjust the “tilt” of the keyboard, all the better. Set it so the keyboard tilts away from you slightly. That allows your wrists to fall in more of a natural position while your type.
- Screen: Screens, also called monitors, are a vital part of an ergonomic setup. The front of the screen should be about arm’s length from you while you are comfortably seated. Your eyes should be in line with the page’s address bar.
- Chair: It’s worth investing in a proper chair if you don’t already have one. Make sure your knees are about three or four inches past the front of the chair’s edge. Your feet should be flat on the floor while your thighs, ideally, will be just a tad lower than your hips. The back of the chair should support your lumbar curve and allow the middle and upper back to have firm but not rock-solid support.
- Break area: Leave an open area nearby where you can take “standing breaks” every 30 minutes or so. Allow enough room to stretch, squat down slightly, and generally move around and shake out the limbs.
Easy Tips For All At-Home Workers
If you’re just beginning your journey toward an ergonomic work situation, consider the following tips to make the transition easier:
- Avoid the couch: Don’t stretch out, with legs horizontal, on a couch while working. It might feel good for a few minutes, but this kind of posture can lead to some serious back pain.
- Customize your station: Set up your workstation so it’s exactly how you like it. Then, you won’t need to re-set it every day. Monitors should be about one arm’s distance away from you, with the top of the monitor at eye level. Chairs should allow feet to be flat on the floor and back relatively straight.
- Know what “20/20/20” is: This clever rule can save your eyes. Every 20 minutes, focus on an object that is approximately 20 feet away from you. Spend at least 20 seconds doing so. Repeat.
- Feet on the floor: Adjust your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor but your thighs are a bit lower than your hips.
- Invest in a high-quality office chair: You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good office chair. Look for one with adjustable everything, including height, seat depth, back tilt, and fully adjustable arm rests.
- Adapt your laptop for longer use: Laptops are not designed for long-term use. If you must work on it for more than an hour or two at a time, use a separate mouse and keyboard so the monitor can be placed arm’s-length from your eyes at the proper level.
- Take breaks: Aim for taking a lot of mini-breaks rather than just one or two short ones. Many of us worked in corporate offices where everyone took a 15-minute break every two hours. Try several five-minute breaks interspersed throughout the day.
It’s important to get started on making your home work area ergonomic. You’ll have fewer health problems in the long run if you do. One way to optimize your health is to visit a chiropractor regularly. At Spinal Health and Wellness, we help patients who suffer from a wide range of physical problems, including the long-term effects of poor posture, non-ergonomic working conditions, arthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, and more.
Contact us today and see how you can benefit from a general wellness exam or spinal adjustment. Our chiropractic physicians at Spinal Health and Wellness, Dr. Andrea Moses, and Dr. Tim Ciolkosz, are always happy to welcome new patients and answer any questions you have about your health. Give our office a call at (302) 993-9113 and schedule a no-cost consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.