Is it Time For an Ergonomic Makeover?

Have you ever just sat at your desk and thought about how much actual time you spend sitting in front of that computer screen?  Do you ever feel aches, pains, or even eye strain?  Have you ever wondered if making some simple changes to your workspace could improve these conditions?  Well, if this is the case, then you are in luck.   There are so many helpful, life-changing tips, and this blog is intended to highlight some of the most popular ideas that will help improve your symptoms. There is actually a term for when you experience uncomfortable symptoms from an improper workspace.  It’s called repetitive strain injury (RSI).  You can read more about the specific symptoms at the following Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetitive_strain_injury, but the long story short is that this is not good!

Office Desk

Think about how your posture is at your desk.   Do you  slouch?  Are your shoulders tense?  These types of things can create pinched nerves, bad posture at office deskas well as lead to pain in your wrists!  Do you find that your eyes are tired an hour into your day and the only thing you had been doing was reading emails at your desk?  If any of these issues are red flags in your life, then it’s time for an ergonomic makeover.

One of the most fantastic, and more expensive, changes that you can make is to purchase a standing desk.  A stand-up work environment changes everything about the way your body responds to proper posture.  Some of these desks actually offer a folding option, where you have the best of both worlds, sitting and standing.  As this is a more expensive alternative, I’d like to focus more on what you can do if you are primarily at a sit-down workspace, which the majority of us are.

Office Chairs

Let’s talk chairs!  Do you realize how important chairs are?  What type of chair do you have right now?  Is it an extra from the kitchen table, a folding chair from the card table in the garage, an overly plush chair from the living room, or the normal business chair which your company provides?  If 3 out of 4 of these apply to you, then I would highly recommend a visit to the local Staples store to pick out a new office chair.

Look for the following qualities when picking out an office chair:

  • Adjustable back rest height – Be sure to find not only an up and down feature, but a chair that angles as well. Keeping your posture straight is the goal.
  • Ability to swivel – Reaching for items at your desk can cause strain to body parts. Being mobile will help avoid such strain.
  • Lumbar support – Lumbar support helps support the curvature in our backs. This outward pressure provides support to our spine.   If lumbar is not an option, then use a rolled up towel in its place as a Do-It-Yourself feature.
  • Comfortable cushions – This is an obvious point and keeps you more comfortable for the duration of your sitting time, aka – makes your bum feel better in the long run.

Mouse and Keyboard

Now that we’ve figured some options for a more comfortable chair, let’s discuss your mouse and keyboard placement.

  • Something that I did not know is that you want these items to be as close together as possible.
  • You also want to focus on the letter “B” of your keyboard and have that be centered in front of where you are sitting.
  • If you’re using a keyboard tray, just make sure the keyboard and the mouse are right next to each other and that when you use either, you are not straining to do so. Your elbows should be at, or near, a 90 degree bend for the most stress-free position.

ergo3Computer Monitor

How does your monitor sit at your desk?  Could it be too low or too high?

  • If you don’t have an adjustable arm, there are plenty of Do-It-Yourself ways to adjust the height - one being the simplest method of adding books under the base to increase height.
  • The biggest point is that you should have your eye level at 2-3 inches below the top of your monitor casing, and at an arm’s length away from the screen.
  • Also, if at all possible, try to eliminate as much glare as possible. In order to do this, you may need to purchase a removable deflection screen, or change up the lighting where you sit.

Desk Height

ergo2The last point that I want to touch on is desk height.  Here is a simple diagram that you can find by googling the words “ergonomic work station”.  Instead of going into specifics, this should give you a basic feel if you are doing something wrong.  If you are, then time to dig deeper and again visit the local office department store to pick out a desk that is built to alleviate the stressors you are currently experiencing.

Move Around!

When all else fails, get up, move around, and take breaks.  Walk away from the madness.  Too often we get lost in our work and find that hours later, we still have not touched that apple we had brought for a snack, or even left ourselves time for a bathroom break.  This is not healthy people.  The first step to fixing any of these issues is to take care of yourself!  Embrace that concept, and then refer to all of the spotlights within this blog that have been written to hopefully help alleviate some of your everyday work inefficiencies.

If you are looking for more information about this topic, here’s another article that you may find helpful:  http://snip.ly/k92bh.  Again, these ideas are meant to improve your lifestyle in your everyday work environment, and are not meant to be miracle cures.  If you are feel you are experiencing more extreme conditions than what I’ve mentioned, my best advice would be to talk with your family doctor.   Whichever you decide, I hope you’ve found this information useful, and if you have any feedback, we’d love for you to share your stories.