How to help your Ergonomics – Top 7 tips!
Have you ever thought about the ergonomics of your workspace? I haven’t much other than trying to optimize 90 degree angles, so when I was asked to present on the topic in a corporate fitness setting, I read up on it.
OSHA.gov defines ergonomics as “simply the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.” (That is revealing in and of itself- I thought the opposite was true!)
In 2000, their website and pdf tutorial goes on to state that “The Bureau of Labor Statistics (an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor) recognizes MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders) as a serious workplace health hazard. These injuries now account for more than one-third of all lost workday cases.” That was in the year 2000, citing 1998 stats. I can only imagine what has happened in 20 years!
Interesting that they cite musculoskeletal injuries as a SERIOUS HAZARD.
Another strong choice of words! Remember, this can be subjective since there aren’t any diagnostic tools that can nail down muscle tightness as the culprit.
One article I read had some great tips, which I will relay below, but some of the tips were designed to restrict the amount of movement the worker had to execute. For instance, one suggestion was to place the stapler closer to the hand so that the worker need not reach as far. Instead, I say put that stapler on the other side of the room and get up and walk over to use it!
Here is a photo of a sit/stand desk used in this company. This woman has great ninety degree angles at her ankles with her feet flat, and also at her elbows.
That is tip 1.
Stand up. Go for ninety degree angles at the hip, elbow, knee, and ankles wether you stand or sit. Unfortunately her upper back and neck still hurt, but we will talk about that in a bit.
Here is a photo of some of the group while they waited for me to begin the talk. Notice no one has their feet flat and they are all trying to get comfortable while sitting. Their hips are rolled back, and they are using the back rests.
Use your sitting cats and dogs (cat/cow in yoga) to sit in your hips, rather than using the back rests!
Either raise or lower your chair or desk so that your feet can be comfortably flat on the floor. If you need a footstool, use it. Ninety degrees is your goal at every joint.
The letter “B” is the center of your keyboard, so use it as the way to center your keyboard, not the perimeter.
Your monitor should be an arm’s length away. Literally. Reach out and see if it brushes your fingertips.
Additionally, I had an eye doctor client who often chastised me for reading things too closely to my eyes. He had me bend my fist to touch my nose, and the book was to be half an arm’s length away by my elbow. “Check your distance,” he would say to me.
The top of your monitor should be at eye level, but if you wear bifocals, drop it down by 1-2”. Also throw a glare screen over it to protect your eyes.
When I presented to the group, I suggested they put a SYSTEM in place. You know what SYSTEM stands for, don’t you? Save Yourself Some Time and Money! (Thank you Martin Rooney of trainingforwarriors.com for the quote.)
The best SYSTEM tip the group came up with was to use the alarm on their computer, phone, or FitBit and set it hourly. Remind yourself to get up and walk around, drink water, breathe deeply, and take a quick stretch break. Put a system in place, and then go back to the important thinking things!
Now, my bonus tip.
Remember our standing desk lady who looked good while at her standing desk but still had upper back and neck tightness? Try this:
Pull up on the edge of your desk while you look over the opposite shoulder and drop your head. You should feel a stretch along the neck on the side you are looking away from. HOLD 90 SECONDS. My favorite musculoskeletal & neurological learning point.
My final quick tip
is to stand against a wall. Make sure your head, hips, and heels are touching the wall. Stay there for 90 seconds to remind your body what straight up and down feels like. Now come off the wall, and if the bonus tip didn’t help, then maybe this will!
What are your favorite office and desk hacks to get your body more comfortable and productive? Let me know in the comments below!